Saint Seiya: Hades: Chapter 2: Inferno Review


It’s time to return to the world of Saint Seiya. The first OVA was a solid start to the Hades saga. I really liked the creative use of CGI which helped to mask the lack of animation at times. It also gave the OVA a very grand feel. Well, that is gone from this special but the animation is much better so it feels like we’re back to the original show in a good way. I would say this OVA improves on the first one even considering that the amazing clash of Athena Exclamations has already passed.

The OVA starts off with with the saints making it into the heart of the Underworld. Their mission is clear, they need to take Hades down and bring Athena back to the world of the living. It won’t be easy though as the Underworld has many castles and specters at the ready to foil their every move. Seiya and Shun are the characters in one plot while Shiryu and Andromeda work with Gemini Kanon in the other. Will the divide and conquer tactic work (Not like it’s really their choice though) or will they now be picked off. Also, where is the man known as Phoenix Ikki?

Maybe part of why this OVA feels like we’re going back to the roots of the show is because we’re going through the whole “Take down each Specter at each castle” routine that each arc of the show always went through. It’s nice and nostalgic to see the characters going through the motions. The big difference here is that we actually have a Gold Saint who can hold his own this time. Kanon really does well in each of the fights and reminds me why he is one of the best Saints in the show. The guy seems more reasonable than most and gets several fights in this OVA.

Before going further, I have to say that it’s still such a cool move when the heroes start taking their opponents down while keeping their eyes closed. It’s probably more of a stylistic approach then their literally closing their eyes at key moments but the animations have always kept this detail and I appreciate it. What’s more hype than letting a villain know that you don’t even have to keep your eyes open to win a fight right?

All right, so back to the plot. Most of the episodes are focused on the Seiya and Shun plot. They make quite a lot of progress through the temples. There is a time limit though so they have to beat these specters quickly. It’s just good nostalgic fun to see them going from place to place. They also make for a good duo with Shun as a support type while Seiya is all about offense. Meanwhile Shun and Shiryu are also on the case but are having trouble defeating any of the specters. It’s a rough stretch for them but up til now they’ve never seemed to be so out of their depth so it’s kind of interesting to see them like this. Then you have Athena and Shaka moving forward with their own plan to defeat Hades which takes a while for any pay off but it’s always fun to have their cameos.

As always Seiya is a great character here. He’s always the last one to give up and keeps on fighting until he gets the edge. It takes a lot of resolve to always be getting up with the ways that the opponents disrespect his Meteor Punch all the time. It never works the first time and yet Seiya keeps at it. You also see a lot more of his personality here as he trolls the judge specter who wanted everyone to keep it down. I haven’t seen Seiya like that since the pre arc.

He has a mischievous side to him after all but rarely gets to show this given that he is in nonstop fights all of the time. This arc actually have him a little time to slow down and have fun with this which was cool. Then there is Shun who still manages to lose all of the time but at least he gives Seiya a lot of moral support. His chains also do save him on more than one occasion so this is far from Shun’s worst appearance. I wish he could get some more clear cut wins but this OVA does throw him a bone so you can expect him to contribute.

Probably for the first time Shun actually does a lot more than Shiryu and Hyoga. I almost don’t need to mention them because these two get one shotted by one of the 3 Judges and then don’t do anything for the rest of the ova. Kanon hard carries them through this arc and they would have been dead many times otherwise. At this point it feels like the gap between them and Seiya is massive. Not so much in pure cosmos but in terms of drive as Seiya gets up while these two stay down. They will have to prove themselves in the next ova.

Ikki takes a while to appear but when he does show up it is certainly worth the wait. He comes in as if he is one of the most powerful Gold Saints. That’s the kind of ability he has and Ikki can really shake the whole battlefield to its core. He even has an expanded origin story that includes Pandora. It feels a bit out of the blue but makes for one of the more suspenseful flashbacks in the series. Ikki was really tough even as a kid.

Part of why Ikki is my favorite character in the series is due to his grand entrances and this one doesn’t disappoint either. He just seems to be a few steps ahead of the other Bronze Saints at all times and knew just when to show up. The villains get lucky that he is summoned away later on or the Specters would have kept taking some heavy hits. Additionally while Ikki is the tough member of the crew and makes the tough calls, he will always put Shun above everything else. Ultimately he makes the right decisions here and it’s a great moment.

The only Saint who deals out as much damage would be Kanon who steals the show as I mentioned earlier. He talks tough to all of the Specters including the 3 powerful Judges. He overpowers their techniques and is even able to fight without his armor. As someone who was not one of the original 12 Gold Saints, Kanon has to deal with not being given the same level of respect as the others and handled it well. It never feels like he will turn to the dark side again and has instead become one of Athena’s most reliable fighters. He has really come a long way here and while he may not do much more for the rest of the series, you can be really satisfied with his role. The guy beat up a whole army of Specters like it was nothing and the judges even have to tell them to leave Kanon alone.

Dohko is still around but he really doesn’t do as much as you would expect in this special. He provides some weapons which are useful during the climax which will have to do. All of the Gold Saints get one last hurrah here before leaving things to the bronze saints. Virgo Shaka’s is the most memorable though as the guy actually did well against Hades. I liked that he didn’t entertain the idea of stabbing Athena for an instant and just went straight for Hades. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t like breaking the rules so it’s a powerful moment.

Honestly this is why I still really don’t like Athena’s plan. It just seems like an awful way to waste most of her own men. Shaka would have done a lot better if Athena wasn’t getting in his way. Her plan to effectively beg for mercy is awful. What’s to stop Hades from claiming he will save the world before murdering her? By the time Athena realizes the flaw in this plan it’s too late because she’s already stabbed. From the start I had major reservations about this plan and this ova did not help matters at all. If anything it just makes every traitor gold saint and Athena look even worse. I’ll probably go more into this after the final ova since we’ll see her complete plan but it’s not looking promising.

Now as for the villains, first up we have Charon who may just be the guy that drives the boat but don’t let that fool you into thinking that he is weak because that is far from the case. He can fight really well and even gives Seiya some trouble. If not for some cheap shots I think the fight would have been over quicker but I give Charon some credit for being a little honorable. That’s more than you can say for most Specters and I thought he was really entertaining.

Then you have Rene who is mostly memorable for all the scenes with Seiya trolling him. It really was one of the funniest episodes in the franchise. The guy’s abilities are good too with how he can toss you around dimensions and use that whip of his. It ties into one of Kanon’s better scenes but without the illusion he may have even beaten Seiya and Shun. Never underestimate the powers of a good illusion.

Pandora is a memorable villain with how much hype she gets. She really does have the specters on a short leash but it seems more like a respect thing than actual power. Unlike Lost Canvass where she can really fight, here she seems to be the ultimate glass cannon. If she can hit you with the harp then she has the edge but otherwise even a normal attack from a Bronze saint can take her down. She spends a good chunk of this special looking shocked or trying to land a sneak attack.

Pandora is a nice change of pace within the villains and I like her well enough but I do think the series could have done more with her as the counterpart to Athena. She is ruthless though and has a lot more agency so that’s still an improvement. In any continuity Pandora is always better than Athena. I doubt Athena would have stabbed the suspicious package the way Pandora did. The tactic may not have worked but it was worth a shot.

A fairly minor villain was Sphinx who did have a good ability to rend the opponents unconscious. If not for Lyra being around he would have been difficult to defeat. You may not remember him for long but Sphinx was reasonable. I had more issues with Lyra in the end. The guy has a tragic backstory but you mean to tell me that he never suspected that the whole thing may not have been an accident? Basically he and his girlfriend had to leave the underworld without looking back but sure enough she did by mistake and turned into stone. This was due to a random bright light.

Naturally it was one of the villains but really Lyra? No suspicions on that? I feel like he should have realized and made a move a lot sooner. His plan was actually not that bad but ultimately it just didn’t work the way he wanted it to. As a silver saint the guy is really impressive, I dare say that he would beat some of the Gold Saints in a battle.

The final one of the normal specters is Valentine who gave Seiya a really good fight. Now granted that Seiya was super weakened and in enemy territory but I think it’s still worth mentioning. You have to have great physical stats to even do that much and you can see why Valentine is such a trusted fighter in the army.

That takes us to the big 3 Judges. Of the 3, Minos hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot yet but his puppet techniques are really lethal. Even Gold Saints are unable to break through his strings. Aiacos has his burning techniques like the Garuda wing and then Rhadamanthys really feels like the strongest member of the 3. He’s also the best one as the guy gets real development and even a true rivalry with Kanon. I like the idea of having a big 3 among the Specters because it really builds up the hype well.

Aiacos has his own rivalry with Ikki and it was a solid fight with a lot of back and forth. Unlike most Specters these guys won’t go down to a single counter attack. As for Rhadamanthys, I liked that he just wanted a good fight and he takes great offense to Kanon saying that the Gold Saints would have wrecked him if their powers weren’t limited. It’s the whole reason he wants to fight Kanon and that’s always a great motivation for me. I was absolutely on board with this.

Finally we have Hades who is the big bad of this saga. He finally shows himself in the second half of the special. I would say it’s worth the wait but he’s not particularly memorable just yet. The guy speaks in a very grand fashion and has a divine aura that forces opponents to back off but we haven’t seen him fight yet. As a god in the series he doesn’t really need to I suppose but he better keep his guard up. I just wish Athena would look tough like this since theoretically she should be about as powerful as he is.

Hades has a great fake out involving a dream which was cool. Ultimately he may get lucky on more than one occasion but you don’t get to be King without having some good luck at times right? I look forward to seeing more of him in the next special. He may not match the 3 Judges but it’s always good to finally meet the big bad and see what his plan is. An eclipse is a fairly original way to cause death and destruction.

There are some meanwhile scenes back on Earth but I haven’t mentioned them much because they don’t really add anything. It’s nice to see that they’re still alive and all but trust me, they won’t be impacting the story in any real way. They’re mainly just here to remind you that they’re around. The best scene on Earth is really the flashbacks with Ikki and Pandora. Those scenes are almost like something out of a horror with how dark the city was that night and how creepy Pandora can be. Ikki having to deal with such painful attacks as a kid is still something else, that kid had grit!

As mentioned earlier, the animation is much better here than last time. We finally have a lot of really good hand to hand battles like the old days and good movement with the energy blasts. It feels like the TV show has come back for real and that definitely feels good. The attacks look solid and the characters’ desperation is really illustrated well. Saint Seiya is a series that really relies on characters giving each other a lot of motivation and pep talks and so you can expect them here as well. They’re handled very effectively.

As for the soundtrack, it’s mostly a lot of classic tunes so they should sound familiar. The opening though really stands out. It’s incredibly high energy and works really well. In general this ova has a lot of energy and helps excel the series. When I say that this ova is near perfect it’s because it shines in all aspects. The Hades are really was quite excellent. Part of what makes it so great is again because it isn’t purely about the Bronze Saints this time. You’ve got the Gold Saints making moves, Athena, Hades, even the Specters get their own development and character moments. It makes this feel like a really complete adventure.

Overall, This will definitely leave you hyped for the third ova to conclude the Saint Seiya saga. I’m ready to see how exciting that one will be. You should probably watch the first ova to really get what is happening here. It won’t make Athena’s decisions look any better but at least you’ll have the context. The ending to this ova is quite striking, Athena’s last scene in particular may take you by surprise. Things aren’t looking great for the heroes but as long as they keep trying there’s always a chance. This ova is just a blast.

Overall 9/10

Venom: Let There Be Carnage Review


All right, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of checking out a new comic book movie. You can expect a whole lot of excitement, action, and teasing for future films. This one even has a scene after the credits start so make sure you stay in your seats. It’s definitely one that you won’t want to miss and I’m glad that we’re starting to get such important post credit scenes again.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Kasady and Frances as they are locked up in a jail for being psychotic monsters. They bonded there though and quickly became each other’s only friend. Unfortunately for Kasady, Frances is taken away to Ravencroft. We then jump 20+ years to the present where he asks Eddie to see him one last time before Kasady is put to death. Eddie doesn’t know why he’s picked but Kasady basically wants him to print out a message. Eddie agrees but he really has bigger issues at the moment.

While Venom & Eddie mostly know how to get along with each other now but things still aren’t going great for the main character. Eddie’s ex girlfriend has gotten engaged to the rebound guy from the first film, Venom’s been getting more impatient and nearly messing up their secret identity over and over, the cops don’t like Eddie, etc. The last thing he needs is the attention of a serial killer, but he’s in too deep to escape now. Can he survive amidst all the carnage?

So right off the bat I like the banter with Venom and Eddie a lot. A positive of being a sequel is that they are already merged from the start of the film so the movie is able to lean into that dynamic right away. It’s always fun to have Venom throwing his little remarks in throughout the conversation. He gets a lot of good burns in on the opponents and certainly isn’t shy about using his abilities. Surprisingly he even gets some scenes where he looks really intelligent like when he does Eddie’s job for him by inspecting Kasady’s room.

Venom can move quickly, use the computer well, cook, etc. Granted, he is a symbiote that has existed for thousands of years but even so it’s always impressive to see him be able to do all of this. He comes across as a very fun guy and is the standout character in the movie. He likes to think of himself as a lethal protector and it’s a very apt title. He’s certainly no hero as he doesn’t mind murdering just about anyone but he does seem to have good intentions and does obey Eddie’s no murder rules.

Venom acts like a kid half the time but he is always up for a good conversation. When the going gets tough you can definitely expect him to step up even though there is one scene where he really gets scared by Carnage immediately. That’s probably the only moment in the film where it seems like he has 0 resolve. It’s a scene mainly played for laughs but I would argue he was a bit out of character there.

As for Eddie, well he’s a lot of fun as well even if he’s not as good as Venom. Eddie’s humor really comes from him being a punching bag. In any scene he is in, Eddie looks out of his depth, incredibly nervous, unsure of what to do, etc. It’s hard to even see how this guy’s a reporter as he doesn’t seem to have any skill for it. Any detective work he does has to be pointed out by Venom first or he has to have been given the clues already. Venom seems to think he should get most of the credit for Eddie’s current position and I don’t doubt it.

This is a little hard to believe but Eddie may seem even more incompetent at just about everything than in the first film. He gets sad easily and gets wrecked in every possible fight. I do like when he tries to fight Venom mano a mano though. The whole fight is crazy because how can you beat someone who is fused to yourself and can do anything? The short answer is that you can’t but Eddie puts up a good try anyway.

So, I like Eddie because of how bad he looks. I’d say the best way to think about it is that he’s the ultimate underdog and it’s easy to root for someone like that. It’s clear that Eddie isn’t a bad person, he’s just not great at making decisions or anything like that. Both Eddie and Venom ultimately are trying to do their best here and are basically two average joes just trying to survive. (Well, Venom’s not normal but you get my drift)

The rest of the characters are mainly solid. Anne’s role as the main heroine isn’t very big but she makes the most of her moments. She comes in handy with helping Eddie at a crucial moment in the story. I’m not really sure if the whole dinner idea was a good one because it almost feels like the worst possible way to break the news of taking another step in her relationship but the intent was positive. Anne also talks very tough to the villains so she isn’t really afraid of anything. I’d definitely be up her getting a symbiote at some point so she can fight more.

Meanwhile Dan is still there as the rebound guy and he seems nice enough. He even manages to help out a bit. He doesn’t like Eddie all that much but you can’t blame him since Eddie seems really unhinged whenever the guy is around. From Dan’s point of view Eddie really does not seem like a good influence to anyone. The film doesn’t have much romance in it but I will say that at this point any chance of Anne and Eddie being together should be over. You can’t rebound twice and Dan’s a nice guy even if he’s a total pushover. Seriously you have Anne openly flirting in front of him even if it’s for a plan and the guy half heartedly protests.

I’ll give Dan props for being a good person but everyone’s always dunking on him. Anne even having a lot of fun near the end and remembering the good ole days. I just think the film would be going too far in putting him down if they were to break up so hopefully they stay together. Anne and Eddie can just be good friends who have a solid dynamic. It seems like a foreign concept in most Hollywood films but they can and absolutely should be friends without having to go past that.

Then you’ve got the cop Mulligan who can’t stand Eddie either. He seems to feel like Eddie is responsible for everything but he has no proof of anything so all he can do is antagonize Eddie as much as possible. Thing is, I feel like Mulligan could have played things so much better and then he could have been working well with Eddie. Instead he decides to become his enemy which really doesn’t work very well at all. Makes for a good obstacle I suppose, but more from Eddie’s point of view since I like how he just ticks everyone off.

Then we have the villains. First up is Frances who has the sonic powers. It’s cool to see some traditional super powers here, really makes it feel like a comic book movie. I was glad that when she meets up with Kasady she took the powers in stride. It’s always annoying to see a character suddenly turn on the hero because the powers look scary. Kasady’s no hero but from her point of view he suddenly returned to save her so I was glad that she actually seemed happy and grateful. It feels like the natural reaction here and the two trust each other a lot.

I did find it odd how she seems so ready to use her sonic powers even once she realizes that it actually hurts Kasady’s symbiote though. Maybe it’s just a habit so she doesn’t think about it much? Then you have Kasady who is about as insane as you would expect. He’s one of those guys who was seemingly always twisted. He tries to give a half hearted origin story later on but Venom isn’t really buying his excuses and I can’t say that I am either. Once you become a mass murderer that’s pretty much it.

Carnage is definitely the more interesting villain though. We don’t see quite as much of his personality in the film but whenever he shows himself you know that things are about to get wild. His sheer power is quite up there and all of his stats across the board are impressive. Carnage is also very confident and a symbiote of his word. These are all traits that make him a very solid villain.

Outside of the characters I also liked how the whole intro scene pre title card was handled. First off, the soundtrack really stands out. The logo is colorful and this all feels like something that could have been the intro to an animated film. It quickly sets up the motivation for the main villain as well as gives us some foreshadowing for what is to come. I’m not always on board with starting the film with a non action scene but this one works out well enough.

Even outside the intro scene I would say the film’s soundtrack is very good. There’s even a brief rock theme that plays while Kasady is in the car. The action scenes are also really good. I was even on board with Carnage tearing through the asylum and taking everyone down. Massacre scenes can often go with grit over style which ends up wrecking them or get drawn out too much to where it can get boring since the humans have no chance. This one handles the scenes really well. With the exception of the tongue scene which is more grotesque than stylized, I would give the scene a solid win.

Then of course you have the big Venom vs Carnage battles and those are just as good as you would expect. They really show off the power both fighters have and also how versatile their movesets are. I admit that I would like to see Venom use his tendrils more creatively in combat the way that Carnage does but even in the comics that has always been Carnage’s specialty. Perhaps if Venom finally gets to fight a non symbiote then we’ll see some more of that. Either way, the fights are considerably improved from the first film and I liked those, but these are just better.

Venom’s power is so impressive I’d even say he could beat most of the Avengers right now. If we consider the current Avengers roster to just be Spider-Man, Captain America (Wilson), Ant Man (Scott), Winter Soldier, and Hulk then Venom could actually give them a fairly good fight. Basically Venom could potentially solo but it all depends on how Spider-Man and the Hulk do. Spider-Man’s spider sense should theoretically make him very tough to beat but it depends on if he uses it well which is always tough. For the Hulk he would win if it’s close quarters combat but if Venom could stay at mid range and try stabbing then it’s tough. I feel like I have to give it to the Avengers if it’s the whole team but it’s closer than you might think.

The film’s short length also works out well enough as everything goes by quickly. I always say that a good film can always be longer and a bad film should be shorter so in this case I’d rather it was a full two hours. It’s a very entertaining film so I’d have been on board with a longer time frame. More scenes means more banter and more fun. This part of the universe is just fleshed out so well like even with the shop keeper sort of being like a pal to Eddie. I’m really glad that the end scene to the first Venom film is acknowledged here.

So there’s a lot to like here but of course the film isn’t perfect so it stands to reason that there are some negatives too right? Well, first up, we do have some animal violence. Yeah it’s basically off screen but it’s still unnecessary when we find out that Eddie has Venom eat chickens. See, Venom feeds off of a certain chemical that is only found in sentient brains and chocolate. It makes sense why he always wants to eat people but finding out that he is eating chickens in the meantime is just sad. They should have just had a scene where Venom refuses so Eddie has to buy him more chocolate. A film is always going to lose some brownie points from me for having a scene like this.

Otherwise it’s close to an 8 but I have a few more issues. In terms of plot holes/logic issues I really only have 2 that stood out to me. Everything else seemed fine including the power levels and such. The first thing that didn’t make any sense to me was actually from the opening scene. So the shady group is here to take Frances away because her powers are way too dangerous. So they take her into a car…and don’t do anything to restrain her mouth when she has sonic abilities?

This either means that this group was not told of her sonic powers from the bosses who ordered them to find her or they just thought it would work out. If it’s the first option than how did they expect the group to take Frances down? There are so many ways she could have escaped if not for a lucky gunshot. If it’s the second option than that’s just as bad. If she’s so dangerous that she has to be brought to the worst prison in the world then she’s dangerous enough to overpower a few guards. So the first scene felt like a stretch and it was only there so we could get the bullet wound scene.

The second is more of a spoiler scene so I can’t go into detail but someone gets powers at one point and it doesn’t make sense how it actually happened. The way the scene played out just doesn’t leave any room for this to be possible. I think there has to be a scene that was cut out from the film at some point but how this made it past the editing room is beyond me. This would raise way too many questions if this were possible because I would argue it could and should have happened to more people.

While the film is short and I wouldn’t say it really dragged on much, I didn’t find the solo Venom adventure to be too entertaining. If anything it’s rather grim how he seemingly murders people semi accidentally while on his adventure. Certainly losing more and more hero status right? See, the film’s at its best when Eddie and Venom are together to banter so splitting them up isn’t the right move. In real movie time I’m guessing it wasn’t a very long time but if it had been any longer it may have hurt. I don’t think that’ll happen again since they had their big fight now though so we’re good on that front.

Eddie also lost some points for me when he is constantly suggesting to Venom to eat the chickens that they adopted. Not a very nice move. In terms of violence the film is rather tame as I mentioned. Only the tongue scene is a bit grotesque and the scene with Mulligan’s eye being pushed in seems super painful but it’s a quick moment. Beyond that especially since the symbiotes can keep on regenerating, it’s super stylized as I mentioned earlier. Both characters can really take a lot of punishment and keep on ticking.

Now this is an action/comedy hybrid so both aspects have to be good and this one really was. As a final note, the humor in this film is better than in the first film. I thought that it grabbed what the first film did and then improved upon it quite a bit. The first act alone has a whole lot of humorous moments because the script is really on point. There’s one obligatory scene where Venom has to say the edgy word once because it’s expected at this point but otherwise it’s witty from start to finish.

Also, I really like how Eddie just seems crazy to people on the outside. Seemingly he has to talk out loud for Venom to hear him even though Venom can speak telepathically. So Eddie’s just bantering with him out loud but everyone can only hear his voice so everyone’s always giving him weird looks. This starts almost immediately with Venom arguing with him in the rest room and on the prison grounds and just never stops. Actually, forget that, Venom can probably hear Eddie telepathically since he finishes the guy’s sentences sometimes but probably pretends that he can’t just to make Eddie look foolish. That’s definitely the kind of trick Venom would play on him.

This might be a hot take but you could cut out all of Kasady’s scenes and the film might be even better. Now granted, I would still want the Carnage fights but if he just showed up out of nowhere at the end that’d be fine with me. The Eddie scenes are really where all the fun is at while Kasady’s just insane the whole time. It’s not that the Kasady and Frances scenes are bad or anything either, but the Eddie and Venom scenes are just that much better.

I will say this, it was smart of the film to show Kasady’s backstory in a children’s drawing kind of way because fully showing it probably would have hurt quite a bit considering what is implied with the dog at the end. If this was on screen I’d be a lot harsher since everything he does in that montage is intense but as a children’s drawing it doesn’t hit in the same way.

All right, final thoughts before closing this review out. The final scene after the credits is really solid. It opens up a lot of possibilities and you can interpret how future events will go in a lot of ways. No matter what happens, I do think we absolutely need a Venom 3 though. This series should be a trilogy at the minimum because there is so much more that can be done here. Venom has a lot of iconic villains that you can grab. I wouldn’t mind if they stick to symbiotes but you can also grab other kinds of villains as well.

Overall, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is definitely very good. It really embraces being a comic book movie from the cool 90s type logos to the solid soundtrack and how casual everything is. Venom creating a giant arm just to flick Eddie off in the middle of the street? Nobody notices or cares and that’s the kind of small detail that’s just fun. I’m not going to say the movie’s great as I still had my share of issues with it but the positives absolutely outweigh the negatives. The overall atmosphere of the film is just really good, particularly when it’s the Venom scenes. I like how several characters know about his secret identity but it all feels rather grounded. You feel like Eddie’s a big fish in a small pond and right now he can do just about anything but he always limits himself. Of course crossovers are the best and inevitably when he gets to fight some big names that’ll be fun too but in the meantime if you were to recommend a modern Superhero saga to someone who just wants an origin story with no real connections to anything then this would probably be the top film to recommend. The film also has an incredible amount of replay value. I could watch it a second time shortly and still have fun. That’s probably due in part to the short length but you also have to give the film credit for just being a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d definitely say you should change that.

Overall 7/10

Zipman!! Review


Time for another series that got cancelled before it could really get rolling. It has a cool concept and solid action so it’s a shame that it didn’t continue. I wouldn’t say it stands out a ton or anything but it was a quality title and it’s always a shame to see those go down for the count. So lets do a deep dive into the inner workings of Zipman.

The series starts by introducing us to Kaname as he attends his brother Koshiro’s funeral. It’s a somber day for everyone as Koshiro was a well known CEO who really revolutionized the world of robotics. He just had a genius that was extremely rare in any era. Kaname and Koshiro used to compete with each other to see who could make Cheena smile. She’s the main heroine of the series and unfortunately both of them fell for her at the same time so one day she will have to choose. Fortunately, she doesn’t realize that both of them like her.

Well, one day a giant robot attacks the city and Kaname is approached by another robot that claims he is actually the soul of the dead Koshiro. They can fuse in order to fight these monsters but Koshiro warns that it will be dangerous so they shouldn’t do this. Kaname is fine with the danger though and so their big era of battles finally begins. Can they stop this villain organization and ultimately get Koshiro’s body back?

The series certainly starts off quickly enough. We’re introduced to the main characters right away and get a good feel for the setting within the first chapter. This is effectively a normal world. Sure, some robots are starting to be created but nothing super advanced yet. Kaname is your average guy who enjoys anime and manga a lot. He has a very scary face so he has a hard time making friends but Cheena is all he really needs anyway so it doesn’t bother him.

The series got cancelled with 17 chapters so it didn’t last very long. Right now you may wonder how this could turn into a big action series with such a normal backdrop but by the final chapter the whole status quo has changed which would help with a sequel. There are different directions the series could go as well like if it wants to end up being a serious action title with a lot of big fights like My Hero or if it was going to be more of a slice of life comedic title.

Lets jump right into the good parts of the series. The art is solid. It’s not great or anything as it tends to get a little confusing during the fight scenes due to how similar the characters look and their big weapons but it ultimately does the job. The non combat moments are when the art is at its best and this is an easy page turner. Art is the first battle a manga has to win after all so it’s good that this was on point.

Then you have the character cast which is decent. Unfortunately like Candy Flurry the series has a bad habit of not really naming the characters though. The first villain gets a name but none of the others do. Who knows, maybe that’s a trend among titles that end up being cancelled? Without a true name it’s a lot harder to find the villains memorable and that can be an issue. After all, it makes it harder to talk about them since you always have to describe the villain first.

The first main villain is named Cutie Charm. So, how the villains work here is there is a group called Zip Down that has offered people the ability to become their favorite mascots. It’s pretty much a suit with a zipper that you walk into in order to become the character. The series even gives us a few big guest stars this way which will probably be tricky with copy right but their names aren’t used I suppose. Optimus Prime and Godzilla are two of the biggest characters to show up. Unfortunately the series ended before Prime could take a step and Godzilla was taken out in one panel so it was more like a tribute to the fan.

So back to Cutie Charm, the robot is built after the magical girl but piloting the robot is your average guy. He’s fairly insane since he looks up to all of these heroes and yet he’s working for the villains. Kaname has to give him a stern lecture. This villain may not have been great but he was the most memorable villain in part because he was the first one. It’s also a pretty interesting gimmick to have all of the villains be robots that people are piloting. I wonder about the logistics of some of the suits like the big Godzilla one but I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much about that. I guess it’s like a virtual reality simulator.

The weakness to each of the suits is to grab the zipper. If you steal the zipper then you obtain that robot’s special ability and you can attach it to your own mecha. You want to collect all of the zippers to be the absolute strongest around. The next villain was a tough fighter with a giant wrecking ball. She was reasonably tough and gave Kaname a good fight with how she could switch weapons so quickly. There was also more of a puppet master fighter but that guy wasn’t here to get any big wins.

As the chapters went on I think the author didn’t want to spend so much time climbing one tower so the next fight with the flying monster was handled off screen despite that guy’s hype of being a mastermind of sorts. The leader of the mini arc who was a fire robot got a good role. Not only was his fight probably the longest in the series but I always like a good fire move. He’s another insane guy who calls himself a hero but wants to murder everybody. These guys are not doing their favorite mascots proud I can tell you that.

Kaname had good advice for the first villain which was to rewatch the show. That’s probably good advice for all of these villains to be honest since their shows seem great but the so called fans in the suits just aren’t following it. A fun villain towards the end of the series was the guy based on Goku from the old legends. So he had more of a traditional design compared to the DBZ one but had the super strength and speed you would expect. His fight against Kaname was short but it showed the guy’s power as his punches were stronger than 1 million horsepower which is insane.

The guy may have been bluffing though but he did block Kaname’s strongest attack with his foot which is no easy feat. Finally you have the leader of the villains, the Chair Man. We don’t know a whole lot about his motivations or desires except that he wants everyone to have their own suit. I suppose he wants to rule the world or something but it’s clear that the series wasn’t ready to do a whole lot with him. It just kind of happened and he ended up being a big player because of how the series ended abruptly. His fight was even super short so it’s hard to say that he was much of a threat.

Of course the main 3 characters are the big ones here. First up, Kaname’s solid. His whole competition with Koshiro about trying to make Cheena smile definitely could have been worse. He doesn’t take Koshiro’s death particularly well but that makes sense since they were so close. Kaname’s your classic hero who is always ready for a fight and likes to just jump into the fray. Making him a big anime fan as well as a nice touch. He’s certainly a character you’ve seen before but the execution is done well.

Then you have his brother Koshiro who is a lot less likable. My main issue with him is that he’s always calling Kaname a “Devil Gorilla” which is supposed to be endearing I suppose but it’s a bit much. He’s constantly insulting Kaname and telling him that he just isn’t ready for this. It’s not what you’d expect considering this was their big reunion. Koshiro acts like Kaname is just a nuisance throughout the whole series until the final chapter where he finally loosens up. Throw in the fact that he gets mind controlled at one point and it’s a rough look for him.

As for Cheena, she’s a very active kind of heroine and I can see her contributing a lot if the series went on longer. Cheena was also quick to try and do some detective work of her own in order to clear Koshiro’s legacy and even kept at it when Kaname bailed. She may be a bit oblivious regarding the main two characters but that’s probably for the best so the series doesn’t get too dramatic too quickly.

That wraps up the character roster and so you have some good dynamics there. We don’t get a whole lot of school life beyond 2 chapters or so but you can see this working really well. The light tone works well for the series and if the author was going to go through with more character references for the villain group that would be a lot of fun without a doubt. The series stayed away from crude humor, fanservice, or any real negatives either. It’s just a solid and safe series.

So what could it have done to avoid being cancelled. Well, as mentioned the villain group definitely should have actually named each member. There’s no reason in this day and age for there to be a villain where I don’t know who he is. Have them announce it or just use a text box out of universe so we can see who this is. It makes the characters more memorable without a doubt.

Next up, Koshiro shouldn’t be nearly as mean as he is. The guy is just a big bundle of negativity in every scene that he is in. From how the characters describe Koshiro it seems like he was a nice guy so why the switch? Perhaps dying changed him but it’s way too sudden since we didn’t get to know the guy before he died. Giving him a better relationship with Kaname would have been a good idea and would lead to a better dynamic as well.

I think those two changes would really go a long way here. There are a lot of small things you can always change of course but those are the leading examples. I suppose a final option is you could also show some of the real world reactions to the giant robot events. Keep in mind that this is a completely normal world so when a giant robot shows up suddenly and starts breaking buildings I would expect some pretty big reactions. Kaname just goes to school like normal the next day and you’re wondering how nothing has changed. By the end of the series half of the school building has been obliterated and nobody seems to care. Part of the issue here are the sudden time jumps.

A big thing in the series is how Cheena doesn’t know about their secret identities as Zipman but then they tell her off screen so we miss the initial reaction completely. Likewise with the time skip at the end where robot suits are common place and everyone uses them now. Those are really big things to just skip all of a sudden and I think that was the wrong move. Time skips are cool and all but you don’t want to use them to skip big events like this. It should be used to skip past boring moments you don’t want to see.

I’m also not sure what the point was of using the term Jackman for a few chapters before the main characters inevitably changed their name to Zipman later on. I would have made the show called Zipman from the start and it would have been perfect. It’s a harmless little thing but I just didn’t see the purpose of it. In terms of humor the series is more low key but it has some moments like when a random construction worker decided to attack the giant robot. Yeah that’s going to work really well…..

I think one of the best things you can say for Zipman is that it’s a peaceful series. That may not be what you’re looking for in an action title but what I mean to say is that it’s very easy to just read it chapter by chapter. You’ll be engaged in what is going on and the clear art/fun script just makes it a page turner. It’s not great or anything but you won’t have any issues blasting through the series. Whether it was 17 chapters or 100, if it kept this atmosphere up you would always be able to count on it as a consistent title.

Overall, Zipman!! is a solid title. It’s certainly a series that ended just as things were getting good. The dynamic of having the brothers actually team up to fight villains sounds a lot better than the whole piloting system. After all since Koshiro was sentient, how does the piloting even work? If both of them try to move will they just short circuit? It makes a lot more sense to have them just be totally separate. Right now My Hero Academia’s got the whole superhero angle covered but maybe this one will make a comeback some day when MHA is completed. You never know I suppose.

Overall 7/10

Judge Dredd Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Judge Dredd always had a pretty interesting setting. To an extent it’s sort of like what would happen if Gotham City didn’t have Batman and had to exist that way for another 50-100 years. By the time we did get a true crime fighter then the place would probably be too far gone to actually be saved. That’s the kind of environment the film takes place in and it actually works rather well. The film does a really good job on the effects.

The movie starts by showing us another gang war in the streets. Fergie got roped into this by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So when Judge Dredd shows up and takes everyone down, Fergie is sent off to jail as well. See, there’s no court system or anything like that (Unless you are a Judge) so if you’re taken in by the law that’s game over. Gone are all of those legal establishments. In this distant future, the Judges serve as jury and executioner. What they say will go and so the world is perpetually unhappy and in a lot of inner wars.

To really illustrate the kind of place this is, the first scene has everyone using giant blasters. Given how unsurprised everyone is, you also see how this is a fairly regular occurrence. You’re either able to try and stay out of the spotlight or you better have good gun skills because it’s game over otherwise. There’s an opening message at the beginning of the film that explains the lore a bit as well.

Then you have the city backdrop which is really nice. Mix that in with the cool sci-fi guns that are coded to your DNA and the effects team should definitely be given a thumbs up here. It’s all aged rather well and the Judge costumes are also on point. I dare say that it will be very difficult for the next films to top them here. They’re really on point and my only complaint is that they aren’t used very often.

It’s what I call the “Adam West” syndrome where you have a great concept but don’t actually use it for most of the film. This came into being with how they made two animated Adam West films and in one film Batman turned evil while I think Robin turned evil in the other one. As a result you really didn’t get to have the fun dynamic/type of story you were hoping for. It’s like this with Judge Dredd as well. It’s a great kind of adventure story to see him patrolling the streets and taking down criminals but after the first chunk of the film that is gone forever.

This is due in part to the main plot. See, the general plot of Judge Dredd is that he has been framed. Someone is using his weapons and since they are tied to DNA that means he must be the one who has been murdering people and committing crimes. Dredd believes in the law 100% so he’s also not really sure how to defend himself. A good chunk of the film is Dredd learning that maybe the law isn’t infallible and trying to work his way back into the city.

So the second half is still a pretty fun adventure but it isn’t really “Judge Dredd” the way that the first chunk was. I dare say that the film would have risen up to great status if it had just stayed like the opening bit. Ah well, maybe next time. The action stays solid in both halves although you do feel like the other Judges should be a little stronger.

Basically if you aren’t Judge Dredd then you won’t be doing very well here at all. We see around 100 Judges get destroyed by sneak attacks, bombs, and a giant robot. Given how Dredd is able to handle all of these guys you would just expect a little better. The film does warn you early on that some of these guys are weak though with how the cadet goes down.

So Dredd’s a great main character. He’s definitely all about the law even if he is rather strict with it. The guy was practically made for the job and takes it extremely seriously. Even when he is asked to go back to school the guy assumes it’s for some more hand to hand skills. He’s eager and that’s what you want to see in a main character. I definitely had no complaints.

Then you have Barbara who is the main heroine here. She’s a Judge as well and can certainly fight better than most of the others. I’d give her a thumbs up as well. She’s someone that Dredd could actually count on and that’s big in this kind of world. She did her best in the trial and gets a lot of good moments. The cast is fairly small so it’s important that the big characters did well.

Then you have Fergie who is the main comic relief. He gets a lot of good lines as well. The guy’s at his best when he’s rubbing the situation in to Dredd since he got captured early on. Fergie is not the kind of guy to drop a grudge, I can definitely tell you that. It gets a little cheesy when he actually defeats an opponent later on though so I always say you should keep comic relief characters away from the actual battling. Still, he served his role well enough.

Finally you have the main villain Rico. He’s the only one I wasn’t sold on. I think it’s in part because the guy relies on a ton of luck in order to win his battles. Without things going perfectly he should have lost early on. I find it hard to believe that he was even able to escape prison. That whole sequence will leave you shaking your head. It’s a good thing one of the villainesses liked him to get some babies ready for the experiments or that would have been another hurdle.

All of the villains seem to trust Rico despite the fact that he is completely insane. It just makes you wonder why. The worst is the villainous judge who was on board with the plan from the start and directly caused the deaths of 100+ judges. At the last second he suddenly wants to have some second thoughts. Cmon now, Rico was definitely not going to allow that to happen and this guy should have known that.

The only other decent judge was Judge Fargo and even he was a little too quick to believe in Dredd’s guilt. The guy needed to stand by his pupil through thick and thin. There are also a few random bounty hunters and thugs running around but these are all of the important characters to make note of. The rest are there to flesh things out of course.

Overall, The writing is on point with the film and with the fast pacing it is over in the blink of an eye. There are definitely some violent moments when people get blown apart but surprisingly it’s quite a bit more mild than you might have expected going in. Get ready for one character to go down shockingly quick after they show up near the end though. It’s almost funny in an ironic kind of sense since you were expecting big things here. If you want to check out a classic comic book film with some good action and adventure then I would recommend checking this one out. It’s aged pretty well.

Overall 7/10

Clear and Present Danger Review


Jack Ryan returns with this big sequel. Clear and Present Danger throws a pretty good story in with some fun fight scenes and a whole lot of characters moving around. It’s a very interesting film and one that should keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. I would definitely recommend checking it out.

The movie starts with some of the usual embezzlement going on. The drug cartels are growing a lot bolder now and this time they even murdered a friend of the president. That was a mistake though as he decides to take a harder look at the situation. He orders one of the higher ups in the army to take drastic measures and wipe these guys out. Cutter gets the message and sends John and his team on a mission. They have to wipe out Escobedo and his drug dealers fast.

Meanwhile Jack’s direct boss gets sick with cancer so Jack has been promoted. Cutter and Ritter don’t like this because Jack’s more of a by the books kind of guy. He’s not going to participate in these shady dealings but as their equal now it will be very difficult to hide things from him. So they have to play it cool while Jack does some sleuthing on his own. Technically all of them want to take Escobedo down. The issue is that Cutter’s group are illegally sending troops into the country while Jack is trying to find hard proof and use surveillance footage.

I like all of the political intrigue going on here. Everyone’s got their own agendas after all while Jack is really the only one just trying to do his job. You also can’t blame Jack for anything here. A lot of times I might say a character was slow on the uptake or missed obvious clues but I can’t say that in this case. I don’t think Jack really made any mistakes. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know so there’s no way for him to act on this information. In a big government agency like this it’s also hard to see how he would possibly be able to find that out so it’s good that he knew the computer guy.

Once Jack does know what is going on he is quick to get in on the action and help John’s team. So that was good and overall he’s a great main character. He really did his best at all times and at the end of the series he steps up and does the right thing even though it’ll likely end up with a big punishment for him as well. You can’t ask for more out of the lead.

John’s character was also engaging with his adventures over in enemy territory. He leads the troops well and ultimately he fought hard. Considering how well versed he was in combat and planning he maybe should have expected the government to cut him loose the way they did, but it’s hard to prepare for every eventuality.

As for the government guys, well one of the big ones is certainly Ritter. He helps out with a lot of the deals behind the stage and is the main one hiding information from Jack. Ritter’s been in the game a long while and knows exactly what to prepare in order to stay ahead of the curve. He did quite well in that position as he even got a note from his boss in writing so nothing could really stop him. He’s certainly an antagonist, but a resourceful one.

Then you have his boss Cutter who is just as corrupt. The guy gets his orders from the President and carries them out. The guy even makes a deal with a terrorist which is going to very large extremes without a doubt. A lot of his decisions were definitely pretty bad like abandoning the troops behind enemy lines. As Ritter’s superior, the buck ultimately ended with Cutter so he should take the blame for that.

The President isn’t off for free either. He knew exactly what was going on with all of the messages that he gave to Cutter. The guy was definitely ruling with his emotions throughout and did not do justice to his station. As the President he really needed to keep on ruling with a fair hand and not let personal politics come into play. If he had just done that and attacked the drug dealers in a different way, while going through official channels then things could have gone over better. Sure, he got the results he was hoping for but at a much higher price and the ends don’t justify the means here.

For the drug dealers there were two main ones. First is Cortez who is the smart guy in the room who always tries to manipulate both sides. I liked his confidence and he has really been around a lot as we learn that he was also the informant for other guys in the past. He has a lot of power and came really close to ruling everything. The other guy is Escobedo who isn’t as smart but he does do some due diligence. Ultimately he’s smarter than your average mob boss but was getting outmaneuvered for most of the film. If anything he just got lucky in one scene as he was nearly taken out of the picture.

We get some in-fighting among the villains which always makes for a fun scene. Ultimately the film really goes by in a flash. The writing is on point and we have a whole lot of likable characters throughout. Even the antagonists are at least interesting. You’re not rooting for them or anything but there is a lot of good banter as well as back and forth dialogue among the two factions.

There isn’t a whole lot of action for a while but in the climax we do get some gun fights. Jack actually gets to go front and center against some of these villains as well and proves his stuff. You feel bad for the soldiers who didn’t make it out though as it was a pretty rough situation to be in. Particularly the ones who are captured since if anything you’d rather just go out in an instant during the fire fight. This probably helped Jack’s resolve quite a bit.

Overall, This was a solid follow up to the previous Jack Ryan film I saw. I would even say that this one defeats the first. The political fighting between the characters made for a good sub plot and it was also nice to see the old school hacking when Jack got to the computer. He may not have gotten a whole lot out of that before being caught but it was a good attempt. This is a very well rounded thriller film that will keep you engaged both with the explosions but also just with the good dialogue throughout. The main morale here is when you’re in the CIA, FBI, or any of those orgs you have to definitely watch your back at all times.

Overall 7/10

Candy Flurry Review


Candy Flurry is a fairly recent Jump title that never managed to get out from the bottom of the rankings. While its cancellation always appeared imminent, it seemed to have a pretty cool gimmick going. Who doesn’t like sweets? In many ways it was going after the One Piece angle of eating a food that gives you special powers while still being different in its own right. It’s a solid series but I think its attempts at humor were ultimately its undoing.

The series begins by explaining the general lore of the series which is that Tokyo was destroyed by a bunch of giant lollipops that rained down from the sky. 5 years later nobody has actually started rebuilding yet but people are still trying to raise funds to do so. A toy company had come out with 100 snacks which gave people super powers. Each candy is unique so no two people will have the same power. As a result the government put together a special unit known as the Recette to track down these 100 power users.

Each user needs to either register with the government or be arrested. You are not allowed to use your powers against non power users and that is true even for government agents unless you’re taking down a criminal. Nobody knows much more than that about the company that released these snacks and so the world is still going ahead as normal but now there are many people who no longer like snacks.

We’re then introduced to our main character Tsumugi. She has the ability to use Lollipops in combat but is not the one who attacked the system. This is dangerous because as the world knows, no two people can have the same power. So nobody will believe her if she tries to say anything and since she knows this is a lie, is it also a lie that there are only 100 power users out there? She aims to find the true culprit and live a normal life in the meantime but it’s difficult with criminals running everywhere.

Her life is changed forever when she meets a guy named Misaki. He’s a young member of the Recette who is determined to be a great agent but lacks real ability. She saves him from a punk so now he is the only one who knows her identity. Together they must catch the criminals while making sure she isn’t detected but that will be difficult. Can Tsumugi pull this off?

At its core this is a classic Shonen Jump title. It’s a very light hearted adventure that is part school comedy and part action. It reminds me a bit of the opening act for Seraph of the End but without the violent beginning. This doesn’t really seem like the kind of series that will go that far. It’s early on of course but definitely happier than most titles and you can get a feel for that from the art style as well. Perhaps World Trigger would be the best comparison.

One of the strongest positives for the series is the artwork. It’s way clearer than you would expect from a new series. Unlike the Ghostwriter, I don’t believe this is from an already established artist either which only serves to increase how impressive this is. The powers are very clear when they’re in use and the fights are on point. The action scenes are always pretty fast though with Tsumugi typically defeating her opponents in a single shot.

I’d like some longer fights but I’m sure the author was trying to cover as much ground as possible so I can see why the pacing is so fast. The fights are good and I do like the overall atmosphere. The school combat routine lends itself well to these kinds of adventures. Many memorable titles started out like this such as Bleach, Buzo Renkin, Seraph of the End and more. There are so many different ways you could take this and there is a lot of groundwork laid out for a lot of extra lore.

You’ve got different classes of fighters and a whole government structure. The toy group will clearly have a nefarious agenda and with 100 power users, that may not sound like a lot but it’s still enough to last for a few arcs until we get more villains. Presumably the Recette isn’t completely useless so lets say they’ve already apprehended about 30 power users. The government probably employs around 30 agents so when you throw in Tsumugi then there should be at least 30+ on the loose. If they’re all strong then that will work out well.

You’ve also got the steroid pills that anyone can use so you can have human villains as well. I do think it was a mistake to show us some of the most powerful government workers this early though. Irie and Amanai are both members of the top 5 agents in the whole government and they are struggling against the villain group right away. That’s why you usually keep the strongest fighters hidden until later. Jujutsu Kaisen pulled it off by showing Gojo right away…but he wasn’t struggling in his first fights. That would be anti climactic and so Candy Flurry should have made these guys maybe Top 30 or Top 20. Going straight to Top 5 is too fast.

Still, it’s all good so far so where does the series struggle? Personally I think the writing is the biggest problem that Candy Flurry has. It’s not nearly as funny as it seems to think it is. One of Tsumugi’s gimmicks is commenting on how cute she is so the guys will always buy her snacks and be nice to her. That’s a rather…narcissistic trait for a main character. I was rather taken aback when she talked like that. We learn that she has been asked out like 30 times or so which I guess has bolstered her confidence every time she declines.

Then she accuses one of the villains of sexual harassment when he pointed out that his gum might get stuck in her hair when he’s shooting his attacks (He has gum powers) so maybe she should cut it. That’s….a very big stretch on her part. It just makes Tsumugi a little more unlikable than anything else because that’s a very out of place line and destroys any chance at bantering.

I like Tsumugi’s confidence when in battle but as a character I actually didn’t like her all that much. She has her share of comedic moments that are solid and she is serious in battle but her personality just doesn’t mesh well with the character. If anything you just feel bad for Misaki when Tsumugi is using him or framing him to higher expectations than he can ever hope to achieve. He is rather slow on the uptake though so a lot of it is his fault.

Not to pile onto her character too much but she also has some of the worst comebacks to the villains. One of them mentions how he wants to make everyone a power user so he can be the strongest with his lollipops at which point Tsumugi says that sweets are for eating not fighting. Keep in mind that she’s saying this after smashing people in the head with her Lollipop and defeating numerous opponents. Her speech about how anything connected to a stick can be a lollipop also felt incredibly random.

So, Tsumugi has her charms but I think the writing hurts her character. Ideally as the series went on she would get a lot better though. Not every character is amazing out of the gate like Bam, Yoh, or Yugi but if a series goes on long enough usually you will improve. So I don’t doubt that she would get better. One step to doing that would be to stop holding back even when you’re about to die but that’s mostly on the series being abruptly ended so I think she wasn’t meant to be as powerful as she was in the final chapter.

Continuing on the writing angle though, it’s not like this only hurts Tsumugi. Irie is another character in the series and one of the Top 5 fighters that I mentioned. She has some of the same iffy dialogue. She accuses another villain of harassment and what I did like is that he calls her out on it. He asks why she has a double standard between him and another villain who’s traditionally more good looking and she struggles for a response. When she accuses him a second time he flat out denies it and she admits that she made a mistake.

This in no way makes Irie even slightly likable. Now, she was stalling for time in the second instance so you could say this was to that end, but it has to be one of the worst ways to stall for time. Additionally she is very one note. Her personality is that she can be really smart at times and really dumb at other moments. She’ll make a great deduction and then fall for the simplest trick in the book. Or she’ll land a great combat technique and then remember that she left her books at home.

Thing is, this happens in every single one of her appearances. This goes back to Candy Flurry trying to move really fast even to its own detriment. Each character has a gimmick and the author wants you to remember this so it is brought up every time. Irie has her forgetfulness, Misaki always follows the rules, Amanai is a tough coach, Tsumugi’s teammate is super in love with Irie and always crying, etc.

Now I get that there is pressure to move fast or you’ll be cancelled but this does end up hurting Flurry a bit. I think to a large extent the series was trying to also be a commentary on Shonen Jump titles like Medaka Box but doesn’t have nearly the same level of writing ability. You have Tsumugi criticizing the trope of just jumping into battle without a plan, a villain getting insulted for wearing a uniform that just so happens to have an image that looks like him, etc. The dialogue can feel really meta a lot of the time but it’s just not executed very well.

You know how when meta dialogue is very well done you don’t think twice and just grin because of how true the critique is? That’s not the case here as you’ll just pause and think, would the characters actually say that? It’s entertaining though even if not very realistic. To underscore, the series is still a lot of fun. There are plenty of humor moments that do land like the dialogue with the Popcorn user and Tsumugi. The debates about which candy is best can be good as well. What truly counts as a Lollipop and what doesn’t. Things like that are interesting and I also like that the characters don’t have exaggerated reactions to the humor. They take things personally and keep joking around while trying to hurt the other one. The moments like this are really good so I think the series is at its best when the humor is being direct like that. So it has its flaws but I do want to underscore that you should still get some good chuckles out of this.

Lets talk about the rest of the characters now. I already talked about Tsumugi quite a bit and also started on Irie. Not much more to say about her but Irie’s ice cream ability seems like it would be really useful. It’s just a shame that she isn’t immune to her own power and can only fight for 3 minutes after activation which is a huge weakness. I also found it a little funny how she disregards Tsumugi as a suspect for being too weak since Irie was stomping her and nearly murdered the heroine but later on we find out that Tsumugi was holding back and is actually way stronger than Irie….

Misaki is the main guy here and while he may be powerless, he has a heart of justice. It would be nice if he were a bit stronger though as he loses to random minions on the street. Additionally, he gets beaten up by the bullies because he refuses to harm a civilian. Sorry but this is taking things wayyyy too far. If someone’s beating you up then you better defend yourself. There’s nothing heroic about being pounded into the dirt so that hurts him quite a lot.

As for Amanai, he doesn’t appear nearly long enough to get much of a read on him. They’re definitely going for an Eraser feel for him as the guy has a similar costume, is sleepy/bored all the time but gets really serious about the rules. He doesn’t get to have a proper fight though as it is interrupted by the main villain and he’s sidelined real quickly. I could see him being a fun character if the series had kept going though.

Umino is the son of the boss of the Recette so he’s a fairly big shot but his opening appearance is him crying a lot. Now, this is a character I can maybe get behind. If you can get around the fact that he is constantly trying to impress Irie even if it means dying in the process and his lack of confidence, and you’ve got a good character. He has enough power to defeat several fighters at once after all and even gives the Popcorn user a good piece of advice.

I dare say that he is probably my favorite hero in the series. I’d have to think about it some more but off the top I’d say that’s true. I also think there were a lot of things he would probably do in the future. My actual favorite character is the pop corn user. What’s his name? Well, this is a slight nitpick for the series but they rarely use names so that makes it difficult to find them. Even for Umino, they only say his name once in his debut appearance chapters on a little tablet when you’re looking at the tournament bracket. Otherwise you just don’t know who he is. Seriously, in the first three chapters where this guy appears they don’t say his name once so I’m just going to have to call him the Popcorn guy.

But yeah Popcorn guy is pretty great. He’s clearly modeled off of Bakugo’s character design to the point where one panel almost seems ripped straight out of MHA. Same costume from that angle and the same pose. I like that this guy is your classic “Really wants to fight” character while also having some original traits. When Tsumugi calls him a loser he refuses to tell her anything about the villains which is reasonable. A lot of times you see the villain still tell everything but he took that insult rather personally.

In fact, he takes every insult she dishes out (And there are a lot) personally and even tries to change himself as a result. Umino points out that this would actually make him a loser if he changes upon request so you feel bad for the guy because everyone is taking shots at him. Still, as a villain he has a lot of personality and just really sticks out. Which I quickly skimmed through the chapters and it looks like none of the villain members aside from the leader gets a power so they’re just off handily referred to my their snacks. I guess like a hero name? Hmmm…..well I’ll go with that for the review too then.

Another villain member is Gum and he’s another good villain. He’s the one who called out Irie’s double standard and he is fairly creative with his ability. Even once the gum is frozen he is able to quickly figure out how to fight with it. The guy is even crying during the battle because of how hurt he is. Candy Flurry really loves its emotional characters that’s for sure. It works well for this guy.

Then you have Gummy who is one of those villains that acts like a hero the whole time. He doesn’t believe in cheap shots and just wants to have a clean fight. He doesn’t like hostages either. Yet…he does use cheap shots and take hostages so the guy is absolutely all talk. He seems to want to help Misaki keep his secret identity though. It’s hard to get a read on him so ultimately I’d say he’s just insane or heavily misguided. We have a quick flashback where all of the villains actually wanted to be heroes the whole time but it never worked out due to off screen events we’ll never know about.

I think it’s an interesting idea to have a villain who feels like he’s a hero. You can do a lot with that but this guy betrays his ideals within the span of a chapter so I can’t take him seriously. Meanwhile there are about 4-5 other members who show up briefly in the third last chapter but they’re all taken out off screen and only appear in one more panel. I guess they were about to have some big fights before the author was told that the series was about to be abruptly ended. They looked like they had potential but we don’t know a whole lot about them at this point. The third member would be cookie I think but he didn’t even get a line so there’s not much to say about him.

It is uncanny how each member of the villain group looks so similar to other characters. You have Bakugo from MHA, Yuji and Megumi from JJK, Zora from Black Clover, etc. I suppose it’s tough to come up with new character designs after a while but with so many characters it’s hard not to notice.

Finally you have the main villain Amato. This guy took out an entire city so he’s definitely a threat and he does take out most of the heroes really quickly. His goal of turning everyone into power users is a pretty interesting one although we don’t know how he would go about doing this yet. I do like that he’s very loyal to the rest of his group though and even sets out to save them.

Based on the flashback we see that he’s a rather caring guy as well. I definitely expect he would be turning good at some point since the series already laid the seeds for that along with the rest of the group. Ultimately he only gets to fight for 2 chapters at which point the series ends but he was impressive. I liked his personality and abilities so he could have gone far.

The snacks lend itself well to the fight scenes because of how much variety they had. They were very different from your average fights and I imagine the creativity would have only continued to increase if the series was given more time. The giant robot at the end felt extremely random to the point where it became a bit of a meme but I think that only happened because the series was cancelled. Otherwise it makes no sense because no matter how Tsumugi tries to explain it…that robot was not a Lollipop in any shape or form.

I did appreciate the twist that Tsumugi was actually the most powerful sweets user around and was just holding back the whole time. I’m all up for having an overpowered protagonist and it also explains her absolute confidence the whole time. I do suspect that she was not meant to be this powerful and had to be boosted since she needed to beat the main villain in one chapter but maybe not. It was hinted in one chapter that she was super powerful when she “barely” defeated one villain only to suddenly be at full strength when fighting another. Even the villain commented that she had seemed tired just a moment ago.

As you can see by the size of the review, there was a lot to discuss here. I think that speaks volumes about the potential of the manga. It was only 19 chapters and yet there is so much to talk about. It really was a unique experience even if a lot of the overall fundamentals were on the generic side. After all, a lot of battle Shonens will have similarities and it’s that extra element you add to it that determines if you will be an all star or not. If this could have gone on for many more chapters maybe it could have been the next big thing.

As a final note, here’s what I would have done differently to keep the series from being cancelled. The first thing is to make Tsumugi more of a likable character. Just don’t make her the kind of character who is too into herself and take away the accusations from the villains. It seems like the author wanted to make her a very confident character based on most of her portrayal so just focus on that.

Maybe throw in some bragging about her abilities or trash talking during combat. Give her the kind of lines you would see Yusuke, Ichigo, or Ryoma have since it seems like she should be that kind of protagonist. That’s a quick fix and I think it would be a good one since Tsumugi does have a lot of instances where she is very likable. Just a tiny tweak here and there and you would stick the landing.

Work on improving the writing as well. Get rid of the dialogue that feels extremely out of place. If you want to keep the humor up, keep doing it with the meta dialogue and all but try to make it feel more natural. A key thing to remember here is also that the heroes should be likable so don’t make them create false claims to buy time or give the villains any chance to make it seem like they are the sympathetic ones. With the government being as extreme as they are here and the lab doing live human experiments on kids…it makes it very easy to be rooting for the villains more than you should. Especially when they’re the ones using the power of friendship while the heroes are fighting among themselves.

Beyond that, I’d say just take it slow and keep introducing everyone. There’s a lot of potential for this to have been a really long running series. There’s not much more to say as those are really the only two things I would change. Writing and Tsumugi. With those two areas improved I think you’ll have a real winner here.

Overall, Candy Flurry is a fun title. It’s certainly got its flaws but nothing super drastic. I would still call this a pretty good title through and through. At only 19 chapters this makes for a very quick read. It seems like most cancelled titles tend to get a bonus chapter when the volume comes out as an epilogue of sorts so you’ll want to keep an eye out for that to give it a read when this becomes available. We’ll see if the next cancelled title can keep up with Candy Flurry. At the very least it’ll be tough to top the fights and artwork since both were quite solid. Who knows, maybe in 20 years this will get a sequel or something.

Overall 7/10

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review


It’s time to finally take a look at the latest Marvel installment, Shang Chi. This one’s been getting a lot of hype for the hand to hand fights and it delivers on this. It’s got a great balance of action and humor so in the end this movie has a ton of replay value. You’ll have a blast from start to finish as you go through the journey.

The movie starts by introducing us to Shang Chi’s father Wenwu as he wipes out army after army. The opening scene is like something out of Dynasty Warriors as he can use his rings with such speed that it appears to be a forcefield which blocks incoming arrows. That was definitely implemented really well. After that he ends up meeting Wenwu and they get married. Shang Chi and Xu Xialing are born and we then cut to the present.

Shang Chi and his best friend Katy work for a hotel as they drive cars around and enjoy their job. They have a good bond of friendship going for them but Katy’s family want more for her. One day the two of them are attacked by a group of assassins. Shang Chi fights them off but not before they steal his pendant. This means that Xu may be the next target so the two head off to go and help protect her. Can they protect her from this group led by Shang Chi’s father or is she already doomed?

Right off the bat the opening fight scene in the modern day sets the tone well. It’s really good with minimal use of cutaways so you can follow the choreography. Even as someone who did think that the Black Widow fights were really good, it’s night and day compared to this one. The hand to hand is very high energy and the train fight is probably my favorite fight in the film. Likewise, Widow’s first big action scene was my favorite so I guess I just really like the way these films tend to open. they’re doing it right, that’s for sure.

The battles continue to be solid throughout the movie though. Whether it’s the fight on the roof top or the climactic showdown, you can always expect a lot of hype. While this is usually more of an anime movie trend, the movie even decides to go for a little Godzilla type action at the end. It’s not quite as solid as the rest of the fights but it’s always good to see the creatures getting some hype. I’d consider the battle before that to be the true final battle for the combat while this is more of a general climax.

The effects are definitely on point as well. The creatures have really epic designs and lighting for their attacks. I also like the way the rings are used in combat. It’s very much in the style of what you would see in the Tron films. It’s a very versatile weapon and if Shang Chi keeps those to use in combat for future films he is going to be very tough to beat. Certainly none of the street level fighters can handle him.

As for Shang Chi himself, he’s definitely a great lead. I did see some talk about him being too merciless and going for the kill, but I definitely didn’t see that. For the most part each fight is always from a self defense angle. Yeah you’ve got enemies being thrown out of buildings and moving buses but there’s no easy alternative there since he’s in the middle of a huge fight. So just putting my two cents into the ring to say that Shang Chi was definitely a full hero here and I didn’t find him to be going too far in any of the fights.

He does have a moment where he nearly does cross the line and the film’s clear in showing that he was about to, but ultimately he doesn’t. That would be the only true example you can use. His upbringing and origin do explain this fairly well though and he certainly had to deal with a lot. All in all, I thought he handled his past and present really well. Shang Chi’s the kind of guy you definitely want to have in your corner at all times. The movie also did a great job of showing just how good he is at hand to hand combat. Throughout the whole film it’s fair to say that he didn’t lose any fights straight up from the present and beyond. He always had the upper hand.

In the comics he was known as the greatest hand to hand fighter for a long time. I don’t know about currently, but at least in the days when I was reading comics. I imagine the films will be going that route too so this was a great way to show it. I look forward to seeing him interact with the other characters because he has a lot of good banter with Katy in this movie as well. Shang Chi’s very charismatic and that’s why I would put him as the best character in the film. Ultimately he really excels in all of his roles.

Katy is also a solid heroine. She has a lot of fun lines as well and knows not to take things too seriously. In general the film had a really fun script for all of the characters but in particular Katy is one of the characters that stands out. She even gets to contribute towards the end of the movie in an action setting which is nice.

Shang and Katy also have two friends in the film who only appear for two scenes but both are worth mentioning. It’s nice seeing the characters openly talk about their heroic exploits and everything rather than trying to hide them like you would expect. It’s a nice turn of events and it’s such a big contrast to how Peter Parker is handling the whole situation. Yeah the situations are a wee bit different I’ll grant you, Shang has less people he needs to worry about. Still, it’s a very Iron-Man type move which is always fun.

As for Wenwu, he’s definitely a very solid main villain. The movie’s going for more of a sympathetic vibe for him sort of like Thanos. Ultimately he did try to put his weapons away at one point and suffered the consequences for it so you can see why he never takes the rings off anymore. Honestly he probably never should have taken them off but that’s more of a hindsight thing and he was trying to do his best. So in the present you can definitely root for him because if there was even the slightest chance that he was correct then he had to check for himself.

So I don’t blame him for going as far as he did and that’s what makes him a high quality villain. He can also fight really well which is also nice to see. Old age hasn’t really hurt him in a lot of ways, he’s thousands of years old and still kicking. His wife Ying may only appear in flashbacks but she definitely looks really good as well. I liked her fighting style and the powers she used were quite impressive. It’s a shame that the powers can’t follow you out of the village because with them she would have been extremely hard to defeat. Her meeting/battle with Wenwu was a great way to introduce her.

Then you have Xu who is also solid. She did well to build her own empire for underground fights. I question how she is able to get in some heavyweights like Wong and Abomination but maybe there are a lot of benefits to being in the tournament. As a slight power levels issue, I do think the Abomination looked way too weak here. I’d like to say it’s a different Abomination to be honest. That’s my little head canon in case he never appears again because otherwise that scene did make me shake my head a bit. There are a lot of ways the fight could have had the same outcome but I wanted to tell the film to check it’s route at that moment.

It’s the only scene I questioned in that case though. All of the fights were presented well and everyone got their time to shine. Back to Xu, she definitely proved herself very well in a fight. Her skills may be a touch below Shang’s but they’re still quite formidable. She’s definitely not an opponent you want to underestimate.

In general the film had a fairly stacked cast and that’s definitely a big part of why the film is so solid. Even the side characters are fairly memorable like one of Wenwu’s main subordinates who is missing a hand. He’s definitely a solid minion. There’s also Trevor who does have an effective opening scene but I will say that he’s best in small doses. I don’t think you really needed him in the film after a little while.

All right, now these next 3 paragraphs will quickly be for spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film yet or the recent MCU shows then definitely skip these three paragraphs. It’s going to be time to do a little speculating here. All right, so I’ve noticed a bit of a trend here. In Wandavision we saw Scarlet Witch as the main villain as she knowingly tortured a whole town of civilians and by the end of the show she’s getting sucked into the DarkHold. In the Cap & Winter Soldier show, we found out at the very end that Sharon is actually compromising the U.S. intelligence for money and is a fairly reputable information broker in the under world. Finally in the Loki show we see Sylvie turn to the darkness at the very end and set course for a new timeline. (At best you could say she just made a dubious call and isn’t as downright evil as the first two but it’s a tough case to make) Here, we end the film with Xu taking over the 10 Rings instead of disbanding them for presumably shady reasons.

You can cut Xu some slack but if this trend is anything to go by, she will be a villain soon. So, what is going on here? Are these all isolated incidents or is something going on here? Personally, I think it’s going to be something like the MCU version of the Sinister Six. It’s going to be a group of 6 female villains who band together to take over the world or something. Wanda brings the power, Sharon has the intel, Xu has the manpower, and Sylvie has more magic which is never a bad thing. For the trend to continue, we’ll need to see if some other players are introduced in Eternals, She Hulk, Spider-Man, or Dr. Strange. Still, it does seem like something’s going on.

Also, while Nick Fury was the main figure head for the first few phases as he connected everything, it seems more and more like that will now be the role for Dr. Strange. He’s going to have a role in the Spider-Man film, Wong is here in Shang Chi setting up some future elements, and you’ve also got the Dr. Strange film coming up. Seems like the Sorcerer Supreme is going to have to start earning his paycheck as the ultimate sorcerer with everyone messing around in the universe. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how that unfolds. End spoilers

I can’t close out the review without also mentioning that the soundtrack was really solid. There were a lot of great tunes here and so I thought the music selection was absolutely on point. The scene of the guy stepping out of the car only for us to see that it wasn’t Shang Chi was also a good fake out. Again, the film’s humor was always on point so even when there weren’t big fight scenes you were having a lot of fun.

Overall, Shang Chi definitely lives up to the hype here and is a great film in this phase of the MCU. I really didn’t have any issues with it and I’m certainly ready to see him start appearing in more of the films going forward. Shang Chi could easily work as one of the central figures going forward since I can see him having good banter with just about anyone. There’s still a whole lot you can do with the Ten Rings as well and we’ll see which film is the first to connect to this one. It’s the MCU so you can bet that there are a lot of plans in the works. If you haven’t seen this film yet then you’ll definitely want to change that.

Overall 8/10

Saint Seiya Review


Saint Seiya is one of the all time greats. When you hear the name “Saint Seiya” you can’t help but freeze and look around. That’s how big this title is. It’s effectively like an old school DBZ and is probably one of the older manga titles that I’ve completed. In some ways you can feel the age like with how the arcs tend to have very repetitive events going on like the classic JLA comics, but the battles are always hype. Even if you can see how things are going to go, the execution is so amazing that you have to tip your cap to this one. Saint Seiya is a masterpiece that will not be forgotten.

The series starts off by introducing us to Seiya. He grew up with a lot of orphans who were being raised by Saori’s estate in order to become powerful warriors. He heads off to gain one of the legendary cloths of Athena but then his sister goes missing. Seiya continues to search for her but is unable to turn up any leads. Saori’s father makes him a deal, if he is able to win the upcoming tournament and establish himself as the greatest Bronze Saint, then he will use the family resources to find her. Seiya will have to deal with some very powerful opponents in order to achieve his end of the bargain but this is highly personal so he is going to give it his all.

This arc was fairly small to the point where I hesitate to call it a full arc. Maybe saying it’s the pre arc would be more accurate. Either way it’s a good way to kick things off as we get a nice little tournament and meet most of the characters who will ultimately stay with the main cast. Unfortunately Unicorn is one of the few characters who doesn’t stick around. I liked his little rivalry with Seiya at the beginning but it is true that Seiya far outranked him even after just a volume or two. Unicorn is at the proper level of a Bronze Saint while Seiya goes beyond that with ease.

The battles are all cool and this is really the only time you will be seeing other Bronze saints doing anything so that’s a novelty in itself. The battle between Seiya and Shiryu is really the highlight of the arc as Shiryu definitely started out with the highest base stats aside from Ikki. Seiya’s the underdog in the fight although he is the main character so you could make the case that this evens things up really quickly.

Then we have the big arc that made the series famous. So in the background there have been some shady dealings with the Pope. Well, he’s taken it a step further as Athena has been kidnapped and stabbed with a sacred arrow. Seiya and his new friends Shiryu, Andromeda, Hyoga, and a reluctant Ikki must invade Sanctuary in order to save her. To do this, they will have to get past the 12 Gold Saints, powerful warriors of legend. These guys are known to be unbeatable and protect Athena from any manner of opponent. So you might be wondering, why are these chumps not saving her themselves?

Well, to be a gold saint you must throw your logic out the window. You no longer use critical thinking but simply do as you’re told and listen to whoever calls himself the Pope. You also have a Gold Saint who is downright evil and one who doesn’t care about Athena. When you mix this all together, you’ve got a group that will not be lifting a finger to help Athena. Two Saints who even know about the situation refuse to help because they’re just too old or aren’t active anymore. That’s just great……good thing Seiya is here on the job.

Since there are 5 Bronze Saints and 12 Gold Saints to be defeated, you can see how there are a ton of battles in this arc. None of the Gold Saints will go down easy after all and the heroes often have to split up. There is a 12 hour time limit too so the heroes can’t afford to slow down either. Going full speed is absolutely the way to go here. If Athena (Who is Saori’s alter ego) is destroyed, then Seiya may never get to see his sister again.

It’s easy to see why this is know as the best arc although I’m really tempted to say that the Hades arc may be the best since it has my favorite moment in the series. It’s really tough to decide either way and it’s one of those things I’ll probably flip flop on a few times as the years go on but for now I will say that the Sanctuary arc is the best. The battles are pretty much nonstop and it’s great to see everyone getting a battle. It is a shame that the Gold Saints only tend to show up as antagonists the whole time but it’s what happens when you let honor dictate your every move.

Saint Seiya is a series that is heavily rooted in honor and always making sure you do the right thing as the group would recommend as opposed to striking off on your own. It’s why none of the Gold Saints are ever able to do anything since they are just content to watch. It’s why the Bronze Saints are causing such an uproar but it’s a good thing that they stepped up when needed. It’s a very satisfying arc and sets the stage well for the next one.

Following up on that arc was the Poseidon adventures. King Poseidon has finally reincarnated and he intends to bring the entire world under water. Athena asks him to stop the madness but forgot to bring her guards so she is locked up in a room where she will drown. She can only hold out as long as she can pray so now the Bronze Saints have to break into Atlantis and take care of business. Can they defeat all of the Mariners and Poseidon before the world is destroyed?

Saint Seiya is not a manga that minds having some casualties. Right in the beginning of the arc we see that a large portion of the world has already been destroyed. So even if the heroes do end up winning in the end, a lot of damage has been done. It’s quite the sobering thought but it definitely appears to be the case. It follows a very similar structure as the Sanctuary arc only instead of passing through each temple, the heroes have to destroy a series of pillars before the 12 hours are up and each one is guarded by a Mariner which is the equivalent of a Gold Saint. (Or so they say, but I feel like the Gold Saints would crush them)

It’s another great arc but my main gripe here is that there is literally no reason why the Gold Saints can’t come and assist. Their entire reason for existence is to protect Athena. This is mentioned numerous times in the series and yet when she is in danger they refuse to leave Sanctuary because they have to guard the temples. Really? What’s the point of the temples if your goddess is about to be murdered and the Earth destroyed? You definitely have to shake your head at the logic going on. As always, you can only root for the Bronze Saints. With nonstop fights and new characters, there is definitely no reason to dislike the arc.

Finally, that takes us to the big Hades arc. Every 250 years there is a holy war between Hades and Athena. He tries to take over the world while her knights stand in defiance of him. Well, this time things are a bit different. His forces have awoken a few years early and are immediately trying to take down her castle. The Gold Saints must try to protect her for 12 hours or all will be lost. Additionally, they refuse to have the help of the bronze saints and even say they will murder those guys if they try to help. Looks like Seiya and pals might need to try taking down both Hades’ forces as well as the gold saints.

I liked this arc for a lot of reasons. Of course you have the obvious ones like the nonstop fights and hype characters, but it’s also the first arc to really switch things up. This time you don’t have the usual battle format with the Bronze Saints doing all the work. In fact, they miss out on a good chunk of the intro as the Gold Saints actually get to do battle as heroes for the first time in the series. It’s quite extraordinary to actually see them in combat. They may get folded in quite a few of the fights as always but they get a good amount of hype.

The arc even has different sections to it so you get a lot of background changes and even story changes. The plot goes in various directions and always keeps you guessing. By the end of it you really have to give the series a thumbs up for ending on a really high note. It’s a series that ends really suddenly too so get ready for that but it’s a pretty satisfying ending and you can choose how it all went down. Naturally I think a certain someone lived and everyone just goes back home after the credits roll but there’s a few ways you can take it.

The art is very solid. It’s got a simple style like DBZ but you feel the impact behind each blow. These are absolute titans who are facing each other and the manga does a good job of illustrating that. While you may find it hard to believe they are throwing hundreds of millions of blows in a second as they say in the text, you can see how they are all moving very rapidly. You’ll never be lost during a fight and I really like how the artist draws the armors. It flows very well with the battle scenes.

As more of an old school title, prepare to see the heroes not taking any prisoners this time around. Most of the villains they face are promptly destroyed when they show up. It probably would be hard to hold most of these guys in a jail since they’re casual planet busters as well. The series can also get a bit violent with how badly each character is wounded. The Saints always take an incredible beating before they are able to get back up. One character even has his ear ripped off.

Saint Seiya also introduced the idea of never getting hit by the same attack twice. In fact, it’s mentioned in almost every battle as the Saint brags that the same move won’t work on him twice. In 99% of those instances the character is right and ends up blocking the move. This doesn’t apply to the main Saints when they are attacking though as Seiya spams the Pegasus Meteor Fist a lot and it always works eventually. He just has to use it enough times to get through the enemy defenses since it never works the first time.

The series also has basically no fanservice at all which is always worth noting. It just seems fairly rare for that to be the case and while you can certainly name some off the bat, on average you would usually expect some. This was definitely a good thing and another feather in its cap. It really makes this a series that is easy to recommend to anyone due to how inviting it is. It’s down to business as a great action title and really delivers on that front.

If anything, I just wish that it could have gone on longer so we could have had Athena actually fight. She’s a goddess and so you would expect her to be on the same level as Poseidon and Hades. Yet, those two have insane amounts of power while she seems to not even be strong enough to stop a Silver Saint. She never gets to do anything beyond the occasional block and it doesn’t really make sense. It seems to always be the case that the heroic goddess is weaker than the evil ones but it would have been nice if she could have at least been in the same league as the others.

Athena even gives direct orders to Gold Saints that they just ignore at times. You wouldn’t catch anyone talking back to Poseidon or Hades unless they wanted to be turned into fish fillet. That’s why she needed more power so that she could strike down these guys. I also find it odd that there is a complete villain among the Gold Saints who murders women and children for sport. Shiryu promptly murders him but how did anyone at Sanctuary allow this to be the case? Surely Aiolia, one of the only good Gold Saints around would have done anything. Presumably the other Gold Saints would have covered for the guy or Aiolia felt bound by the law but it’s still annoying to see a villain get high in the ranks like that.

All right, lets take a look at the various characters here. First up is Seiya of course since he’s the main character. He’s a very classic kind of main character who always stands up for what’s right and has a lot of determination. Initially he’s even got a bit of a punk attitude about him like when he’s picking fights with Unicorn but he matures really fast. Undergoing constant life or death battles will definitely do that to a person.

Seiya continually shatters expectations and is always the last fighter to go down so it’s impossible not to like the guy. He’s definitely a blast to root and if the Gold Saints would provide him even the slightest bit of support he probably could have ended the series a bit early.

Then you have Ikki who is the best character in the series. He’s an old school rival who started out as a villain but eventually realizes that this isn’t the right way to go about it. It’s hard to blame him at first though since Saori’s father was incredibly corrupt. Sending little kids to places like Death Island is incredibly traumatic and by all accounts Ikki shouldn’t have survived that experience. He managed to stay alive though and even thrived but he had to put up with a whole lot. As an ally, he’s the best ally you could ask for though.

Ikki really takes down some incredibly powerful opponents during the series. His fight with Virgo Shaka is definitely still one of the more memorable fights. That guy was incredibly broken and yet Ikki could fight him blow for blow. The fact that Ikki can continue to revive even after being destroyed also makes him incredibly difficult to fight since Ikki also gets stronger with each revival.

As for Hyoga, he’s got a tough disposition like Ikki but never actually went down the evil route. His ice abilities are solid and he has a tragic backstory as well with his Mom getting encased in ice. The Gold Saints were also petty enough to throw her to the bottom of the ocean which was definitely a low blow. Hyoga’s another solid companion to have around and I like his confident demeanor.

Then you have Andromeda who is often known to get the short end of the stick. I can’t deny that as he tends to lose a lot of fights and has a habit of getting saved by Ikki. There’s no shame in getting saved by the best in the biz of course but it happens enough times where it overshadows his own achievements. Andromeda’s Nebula Chains should be one of the strongest weapons in the series and yet it always fails. These chains can stretch across universes and dimensions and are said to be unbreakable.

The problem is that several characters break them. The chains can also sense danger and activate on their own but even with that the enemies are able to trick the chains and speed blitz Andromeda. Maybe he would have been better off without the chains if this was how it was all going to go down.

As a side note, several characters seem to get stronger after taking off their Cloths. Logically this shouldn’t make sense since the armor is what protects them from universe ending lows. It increases your defense but shouldn’t lower your offense. Still, Andromeda and Shiryu often take off their cloths to fight with no protection and that’s when they end up coming out on top. The feeling of danger excites their cosmos as they burn their way to the top. In this series your power level is highly dependent on your feelings at the moment yet it does still feel odd whenever they toss away one of their big advantages.

Next up is Shiryu who patented that technique. It seems like he would take off the armor constantly and he suffered the same issue as Andromeda with his weapon not doing so well. Shiryu’s arm always served him well but his shield would often get overpowered even though it is said to be unbreakable. It’s fortunate that Shiryu is such a powerful fighter that he doesn’t need to rely on it.

Shiryu may be a bit more of a stickler for the rules than some of the other Saints but unlike the Golds he does still step up when needed. He also may have the best durability as he gets the most punishment in each battle but always stands back up. He has a particularly impressive moment near the end of the series when he takes on 3 high ranking spectres at once. That has to be one of his best scenes.

I already talked about Athena a bit. She’s an okay character for the most part but really starts to drop off as the series goes on. In Arc 1 you can’t blame her since she hadn’t fully realized her position yet. In the Poseidon arc she definitely should have ordered some Gold Saints to help her out or had more of a plan than simply drowning. Then in the Hades arc she should never have allowed the enemies to murder her or ordered that the Bronze Saints stay home. Her long string of questionable decisions definitely ended up hurting her character in the end.

As for Poseidon, I wasn’t a big fan of his human form. He’s pretty much just a rich flirt which is not what I expect to see when I hear the word “Poseidon”. Still, as a fighter he can hold his own. He has a cool design and it’s always fun to meet one of the big bosses. He may not be the most impactful villain but he serves his role well.

Then there is Hades who is a lot more interesting. Between the fact that he has to effectively body hop each time and that he is always the same Hades across all the timelines is interesting. It makes him a very layered character in comparison to most. I would argue he is probably not the best strategist since I feel like he should easily win the war due to all the advantages that the Underworld has like infinite regeneration. If he had attacked with everyone right off the bat instead of allowing the others to seal this ability, things could have gone really well for his army. He makes for a solid end boss either way.

Pandora was a fun character. She got a lot of hype in her opening appearance even if she didn’t do a whole lot after that. Her ability to inflict any of Hades’ minions with absolute pain when she plays the harp was a cool trick. I would have liked to have seen a little more of her in action but having an Athena type figure who could actually fight was nice in and of itself.

Rhadymanthys is one of the more memorable fighters in the Hades arc. As one of the 3 Judges, his power is so considerable that he believed he could stop multiple Gold Saints on his own. He did accomplish that fact but it was in Hades’ castle so you have to question if the Gold Saints were at full power. Lost Canvas states that Hades Castle limits the power of all Athena’s saints. Now that series isn’t fully canon but I do like all of the lore it introduced so I like to include it as head canon.

If not, then we do have to acknowledge this guy as easily one of the strongest characters in the franchise which is probably true either way. This guy was cool and definitely very memorable. Then we have Hypnos who is one of the gods that works for Hades. The fact that he is a god would suggest that he is supremely powerful and that is true. Both Hypnos and Thanatos have very impressive stats and one of the better fights at the end of the series. They’re quite solid as well and it’s always nice having “High above” characters who can actually fight as opposed to just talking a good game throughout. Power over dreams and power over reality are both very tough things to overcome.

Aiolos is my favorite Gold Saint but unfortunately he dies prior to the start of the series. We only know him through a brief flashback when he saved Athena and his character is fleshed out further in spinoffs. The guy was a masterful fighter and the only saint to have as much potential as Saga. It’s a shame that he could not appear more but he stole every page that he was in.

Then we have Gemini Saga who is a very interesting character. Naturally he does have a massive role in the Sanctuary arc where he fights Seiya and friends and then he also gets a big role in the Hades arc. In both arcs I thought he was on the wrong side. He’s certainly a powerful adversary though. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Anakin Skywalker in that he was the chosen one who was meant to be the strongest saint of all but then he succumbed to the dark side. It’s a shame that he just could’t stay strong and in the light but power tends to corrupt way too quickly for that.

His Galactian Explosion is really an incredible attack and one of the most memorable techniques in the series. It’s easy to see why the characters fear him so much. He’s got to be the best villlain in the series but if you count him as a hero then he’d have to be somewhere in the Top 5. Either way he leaves quite the impact and feels a lot more prepared than most of the other Saints.

Aiolia is not to be confused with Aiolos but he is certainly following in that guy’s footsteps. Not only does he have similar powers but he also has a much stronger sense of justice than most of the Gold Saints. The only way he helps the Pope is when he is mind controlled and otherwise he wasn’t being suckered like the others. I just wish he would push aside the people stopping him when he wants to help Seiya on several occasions. They certainly could have used the help.

Taurus is the first Gold Saint that you have to pass in order to get to Athena’s chamber so you can see him as the weakest one but often times the series gives him a lot of hype. He’s an honorable man who likes a fair fight. It would be nice if he had more fighting moves than his shoulder tackle though as that one seems very limited. I like him, but never found Taurus to be nearly as powerful as everyone claims.

Virgo Shaka has the title of “The Man Closest to God” so as you can imagine he is extremely powerful. He is one of the only Saints to unlock the mythical 8th sense and consistently proves himself to be very powerful. His ability to remove your 5 senses is also cool. That said, since he knows immediately what is going on during the Sanctuary arc, it’s hard to call him a hero. He willingly stood against Athena unlike some of the others who could claim to be tricked. That is really hard to ignore.

He has a great final fight in the series but he’s not really someone you can trust. In a sense perhaps he just knows too much and that prevents him from acting. I do like him quite a bit but more as an antagonist than me accepting him as a hero. If you want to talk about someone who prefers inaction, Roshi is your best bet. The guy just stands in front of a waterfall for almost the entire series.

His only job in life is to let people know when the seal has broken and he is so slow to react that the main ivnasion happens before he can arrive. I didn’t care for him much at all during the series but he finally looks good when he transforms into his true form, Dohko. In that form he actually has a decent fight even if he ends up watching from there. He certainly does almost nothing considering that the guy has a lot of screen time. Theoretically he is one of the strongest Gold Saints but it’s really hard to say that with any confidence since he didn’t fight much.

Going away from the Gold Saints for a moment, Cassios is one of the original Bronze Saints who fights Seiya. I was not really a fan of him but he does have a bit of a redemption arc as he appears in the background as a hero. It just goes to show that even the minor characters could improve a bit but as the first guy to get crushed by Seiya, he never ends up being a true big shot.

Then you have Seika, Seiya’s sister. Throughout the series they hint that she may be Marin or that she really is missing. It’s a plot point that the series teases every now and again but doesn’t really get much of a satisfying ending. The way it concludes is definitely unexpected since I thought the series was going in a different direction but I thought the whole handling of the sub plot was a bit sloppy. It almost didn’t need to be around if this was how it was going to end up. I’m sure she’s a decent character but she doesn’t really get to do anything.

Next is Marin who is one of the Silver Saints. Due to some really outdated customs among the Saints, all female Saints are Silver level and they are not allowed to take off their mask except in front of their true love. If someone else sees them, then they must dedicate their lives to murdering that guy. It reminds you why Sanctuary isn’t as happy a place as it may sound at first.

Marin is a very tough character so none of this bothers her all that much. She has a decent supporting role and even gets a few fights on occasion. She isn’t very powerful but as a lot of the Saints have a tough time hitting a girl, it does help even the playing field a bit. Then you have Shaina who is effectively a much meaner version of Marin. I actually preferred Shaina though as she would also see reason a lot quicker and really did contribute to the team on multiple occasions. Shaina was quick to fight and that won her a lot of points in my book.

Back to the Gold Saints, we have Mu who effectively retired from the business. He spends his life recreating armors and fixing things up. He acts like a scholar but he still has the power of a Gold Saint. My main issue with him is that he looks absolutely dreadful in the Hades arc. You could also say he looks bad in Sanctuary since he doesn’t lift a finger to help. It would have been nice if he could have done something more aside from just watching in the Bleachers.

He openly gets in the way of the heroes and that has to be the worst part. By the end he was easily one of my least favorite Saints. Then there is Shion who is also in the running as one of the worst ones. First he allows himself to easily be defeated by Saga and then he joins Hades. Yes, he has a convoluted plan on why this is for the best but I never bought it. It just resulted in more dead soldiers and even then he leaves most of the work to his subordinates so he doesn’t actually do a whole lot on his own. So much for being the Pope and having a ton of power right? In the end he would falter every time.

Gemini Kanon is a character I liked quite a lot though. He starts out as a random Mariner but he actually has some strong ambitions just like Saga. He has similar abilities which makes sense since they’re family and goes from being an interesting villain to a very complex character overall. Needless to say, he’s not someone that you want to mess with as a hero or a villain. He has to go through a lot for the Saints to trust him but ultimately he does earn their trust.

Deathmask is really the Saint to watch out for. He’s pure evil as the manga goes out of its way to say that he would target a lot of women and children. Again, how is this guy allowed in Sanctuary? Well, Shiryu showed him what was up and he’s really the only Saint who they didn’t even try to redeem. He was dispatched and never looked back. He had some interesting abilities and made for a decent, psychotic villain. You won’t soon forget him.

Next up is Milo whose little stingers can be quite troublesome. If he lands 12 hits on you then it’s game over. I always liked that kind of technique since it is really hard to counter and means you have to fight very carefully. It’s also possible to die before the final blow due to how strong his moves are. He may not be one of the best Saints but his abilities are unique which makes him stand out.

Shura is another Saint who is very unreasonable while declaring himself to be absolute justice. You’d think that guys like him would listen a bit more since they want to protect Athena so much but he’s not willing to learn which is his downfall. I like his Excalibur swing though as his arm is as powerful as a sword. It’s a good way to hype up his battle with Shiryu since they have a lot of similarities.

The final Gold Saint is Aphrodite who is obsessed with his appearance. It’s fitting for his name sake but it doesn’t help make him a very interesting character either. Clearly he has his priorities mixed up and it’s no wonder that he’s not stronger. He could have used all that time to train instead.

Thetis was Poseidon’s right hand woman. She had decent abilities and performed well in her fight with Shaina. She may not have lasted very long but Thetis was a loyal soldier to the end and definitely had Poseidon’s back at all times. Then you have Baian who was one of Poseidon’s pillars. He had a lot of confidence and I liked his water abilities. He could really send you far in a fight and had a lot of confidence in his techniques.

Io is one of those characters who would do better if he wasn’t obsessed with using all of his attacks. Remember that an attack doesn’t work twice on a Saint so you want to be careful about using them all at once since the Saint will remember them now. I felt like he had the edge on Andromeda throughout but threw away his advantage by doing this.

Krishna’s a fun member of the group who is extremely confident in his own weapons being more powerful than Shiryu’s. He may have ultimately been defeated but he put up a good fight and his weapons were quite powerful. It’s just hard to match up to the Saints. Caca is more of a mental guy who fights the Saints with illusions and transformations.

He actually ended up doing a lot better than I would have expected but Ikki put an end to that. One weakness most of the Saints have does seem to be in their emotions. They don’t conceal them as much as they try to make you believe. Even Ikki has a weakness to that but he was able to power through. Caca isn’t nearly as likable as the other Pillars though as they still tried fighting with honor to the end.

Isaac really comes out of nowhere but he has a whole sob story about actually trying to be a Saint back in the day. It didn’t go well for him and he wrongly blames Hyoga. The guy felt a bit whiny to me although I liked him in the flashback. He just ended up being a far cry from his old self as the bitterness took him over. I guess that’s what happens when you go on the path of darkness.

Sorrento gets a bigger role than most of Poseidon’s men. He has some nice musical abilities which are always hard to counter and even has some suspicions about the treachery going on in the area. That said, he is extremely slow to act so maybe it doesn’t even matter that he knew something was going on. I liked him though, it’s always nice to see a villain who’s quite loyal even if unfortunately he chose the wrong side.

Minos is another one of the Judges and has a solid amount of power but doesn’t look quite as impressive as Rhadymanthys. Ultimately his arrogance is his undoing as is the case with so many other villains in the series. It’s a common theme to the point where I would even call it a moral. Underestimating your opponent will always lead to doom and destruction.

Charon has a big role as the guy who operates the ferry. I have to give him some props as he even gives Seiya a run for his money. It’s a cushy job for him since he has home field advantage and is powerful in his own right. The guy was amusing even if he was ultimately doomed in the end. He just felt like a guy who was doing his own thing. He may have served Hades but he wasn’t super loyal about it, he just also wanted his money.

Pharaoh is another villain who uses a musical instrument and once again it is shown as being incredibly difficult to counter. I suppose it’s because music pierces right through any obstacles in front of it. Regardless, he really had his way with the Saints for a while before going out and even had a bit of a tragic past. Mainly it was amplified by this guy getting jealous quick but he made for an interesting villain.

Gigant is one of the first true Spectres that we meet in the series but he is effortlessly beaten by Shaka. It further reinforces why I think the Saints are stronger than the Spectres on average. This guy was supposed to be reasonably strong but couldn’t even last for an instant. You have to admire his confidence but ultimately it was completely empty and unjustified.

Papillon is an interesting Spectre because he isn’t even humanoid anymore. The guy’s like a big pile of Jello that can transform at will. It makes him a dangerous villain since he also has psychic powers but I just couldn’t take him seriously. It was nice to have some variety in the ranks though. He stands out more than Niobe for that reason. Niobe has the famous moment where he loses to an attack but is still able to fight for an extremely long time after that before it sinks in. It’s almost like Toon Force except it is handled extremely seriously. There is no comedy to be found here.

Raimi is another Spectre who overestimated his abilities and paid the price for it. He’s only good when in a pack but one on one it was easy for Aiolia to defeat him. At least he could fight more than Zelos who loves mocking people but can’t fight for beans. He loses almost as an after thought in the series. I like to think even Unicorn could beat him but maybe that’s going too far.

Yeah Saint Seiya is definitely a series you don’t forget. There are many more fighters in the series, particularly the Hades arc which had 108 Spectres running around but a bunch of them are shortly dispatched after saying their name. You had 3 Spectres for example who ganged up on Shiryu but still ended up being clobbered in the end. Hades prefers quantity over quality which isn’t a bad bet in his circumstances. It just wasn’t enough.

Overall, Saint Seiya is definitely a masterful title and I would consider it an elite among manga. There’s just so much that happens and the series never takes a break. When 1 arc ends, the next one begins almost immediately. You’ll even feel bad for the characters as it feels like every other day they’re being beaten half to death and then have to regroup for the next fight. Athena definitely gets kidnapped a lot that’s for sure. If you like quality action then you’ll love this series because it really never rests. This isn’t the end for Saint Seiya reviews though so you can expect more soon. This review just took a while because the series is so long so there were a lot of characters to get through.

Overall 9/10

Beyblade G-Revolution Review


When I watched V-Force, I figured that Beyblade had reached its peak. How could it possibly top that series which was so amazing? Well, somehow Beyblade pulled it off. G-Revolution is the definitive season and it’s so good that it actually entered my Top 5 anime of all time, something that hasn’t been done since Madoka Magica which has now been bumped off. My Top 5. is now 1. RWBY, 2. Yugioh GX, 3. Beyblade G-Revolution, 4. Digimon Data Squad, 5. Cardfight Vanguard. Some titles had to make way for the champ. This series has incredible replay value to the point where I’ve watched almost all of the duels a second time. If you want a show that fires you up, this is the way to go.

G-Revolution really has two main arcs. The first one takes up the majority of the series and the basic plot is that the world championships have returned yet again. Tyson and the Bladebreakers won the first two years but this time there is a bit of a shift. See, the World Championships are going to be tag-team style which means that not all of Tyson’s friends can join in like they would in the 4 man squad. No, this time there can only be one and so Tyson’s friends all bail out on him. He is now forced to team up with Daichi, a new kid around the block who thinks he’s hot stuff.

Tyson and Daichi don’t get along at all. To Tyson, Daichi is an amateur who is going to hold him back and Tyson is also really upset at his friends for just ditching him the way that they did. Meanwhile Daichi sees Tyson as a rival who doesn’t respect him and he really wants to keep on winning until Tyson sees things his way. It’s going to be a rocky road and they have to get better quickly since they are going up against the world’s best. Can Tyson prove that he has what it takes or is it true that he only won the previous years because of his friends?

This arc is completely masterful, there’s no other way to put it. It’s a huge tournament with the best of the best. Sure, it would have been fun to have had some teams from season 2 or 1 to show up, but by and large you have all of the big characters here. Since the tournament is round robin style, you also get to see each team play against each other which is a lot of fun. There are a ton of matchups to be had and of course you don’t know which team will win any given match since you can lose a set and still make it to the finals.

I always like the hype before a tournament match goes on. Seeing the characters slowly walk up to the screen and dredge up their courage is intense. Beyblade knows how to hammer in the hype as you have the announcers going crazy and a whole lot of great music. You’re definitely not likely to be disappointed here I can tell you that much. Each episode delivers with a great amount of intensity.

It helps that the character roster is so amazing. There are tons of excellent characters in the mix to the point where you’ll like almost every team. The only one I would roll my eyes at was the cheating group with the scientist but I’ll talk more about them later. Everyone else were legitimate contenders but of course only one team can win so that really ends up making things pretty tense.

As for the second arc, it’s a lot shorter but still really hype. This time we actually have a whole villain group by the name of BEGA. They intend to really change the Beyblading world and the only way to participate is to join their group. If they have their way then it will be impossible to blade in the city without joining their affiliation. You can see how that would be a big issue. Tyson and the gang have to defeat them and this time we do get a full team of fighters. It’s a 5 on 5 battle so Tyson will have to choose his fighters carefully. While the arc is really just building up to a single team battle, there is a lot of hype leading up to it.

There is a real sense of danger here since a loss will be a loss for the global community but even more important than that, they just can’t afford to lose to these guys. The new villains are mostly rather sympathetic but they all have a lot of confidence and believe they’re the best so if a hero loses he will never hear the end of it. The heroes will need new Beyblades to win and they will have to do it without the help of their old pal Kai. Still, Tyson is up for the challenge.

So the first arc wins for me in part due to how much I love a great tournament but it’s also so much larger that it’s hard to go against it. It has more hype duels by default and of course seeing Tyson go up against Kai again like the good ole days is impossible to pass up. That said, the Brooklyn vs Kai duel is in my top 3 fights of all time for the franchise. It was incredible and the arc has several other fights at that level. Kai takes a beating in the arc but it also shows how the game is so serious. It’s no longer a kids game as Hiro would say.

The animation is really solid which helps as well. You can’t really compare it to the first two seasons. Season 2 had good animation as well but the designs are a straight upgrade here and I would say the animation improved as well. You have some moments where the characters even get DBZ style auras now and some fights feel like they even have hand to hand with how the characters move with their blades.

Another big win for the series is the soundtrack. You can’t underestimate how much a good soundtrack will help take a series to the next level. Unfortunately most of the themes were never released and Youtube only has some of the episode ost but all of the lyrical songs are online. Rise Above The Storm and Swing Low are the top two with ease. All of the songs are solid though so the selection has improved a lot since season 1. These songs pump you up in the battle and the suspense themes leading up to the battles do the job too.

A top tier anime needs to be an all star in every category and that’s exactly what Beyblade achieves. The voice acting, writing, characters, animation, soundtrack, it’s all there. There’s just nothing to dislike in the series and each episode continues to add on to the previous one. Many characters get significant character arcs so nobody really ends as they started. They just keep on fighting to new heights.

Now’s a good time to talk about the characters and man are there a lot of them. So strap in because this is going to be a pretty big review. First up we have to talk about Tyson of course and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s always been a fairly head strong main character. I would say he was definitely the most hot blooded in V-Force but he certainly has a ton of moments like that here. One of his stand out moments is when he calls Ray out and refuses to fight Lee. That was crazy but set the stage as Tyson is not someone who will be disrespected without putting up a fight.

Any scene with Tyson is great. Even when he was being lifted several feet off the ground by Crusher, Tyson didn’t back off. His pure ability with a blade is second to none. It’s extremely difficult to have a masterful series without a top notch main character and fortunately Beyblade got a winner right off the gate.

Then you have his partner Daichi who is pretty fun. I’m still sad they had to cut out his subplots from the manga though. It was cool how we slowly got introduced to his character way before he ever met up with Tyson and friends. Here he just shows up out of nowhere but ultimately I still liked him. He’s definitely more crude than Tyson and friends and his confidence isn’t as well deserved but he has his moments.

I find it a bit funny how Kai seems to have nothing but disdain for him though as he falls asleep during their first match and in the second he chooses to forfeit instead of fight. I think it’s because Daichi doesn’t fit into his label of what a true Beyblader is. Daichi definitely has a heart for the game though even if it doesn’t show in the traditional sense and he even gets a good rivalry with Tala by the end.

Ray has always been one of the strongest members of the Bladebreakers and that doesn’t change here. He has incredible endurance, second only to Kai. At this point he has really mastered his blade. He seemed to be way more harsh to Tyson than anyone else when leaving the team but he definitely does take his Beyblading seriously. In a way you could consider him the secondary rival in Beyblade or just the 3rd strongest in the team. It’s always a fun spot to be in since you get a lot of hype around the board and it’s also good to have the distinction that you are the strongest aside from the MC and rival. Most series don’t have a resolute #3 like that.

He has to carry Lee in a lot of battles as well so it was tough to claw his way to the top. Still, Ray was up for the challenge and is definitely one of the best characters. Speaking of Lee, he really looks bad in this season. Almost every fight has someone overpowering him, outsmarting him, or just tricking the guy. Lee feels like a season 1 character in the worst way as his power level has not kept up. I felt bad for him after a while because it seemed like he could do nothing right. Whenever he tried to help it would just backfire.

I guess there was nobody stronger Ray could pick, but yeah Lee ended up losing almost every fight. In comparison, Max had the best teammate in Rick. You could make the case that Daichi’s a bit stronger but Rick’s very impressive from start to finish. He’s one of the meaner Beybladers and even participates in a lot of underground battles. Still, because of that he has honed his power to an incredible degree. Even Kai was not able to win in pure brawn and had to use his skill to win their fight.

Rick also has a theme song of sorts when he puts his boombox on. The guy doesn’t care that it’s loud, he just cranks up the volume and does whatever he wants. I liked his absolute confidence and I looked forward to his battle with Kai quite a lot. He’s not a team player but definitely an amaing character.

As for Max himself, he was always the nice guy of the 4. I found him to be the weakest main member of the Bladebreakers but it’s all close I suppose. He has a good match with Kai and gets a lot of good moments throughout the series. His defensive style holds him back in my eyes as attack power will almost always be the right way to go but it is undeniable that he is one of the top ranked fighters in the world. He’s a good character, Max may not stand out as much as the others like Ray, Kai, or Tyson, but he still puts in a good show.

Now lets talk about the best character in the series, Kai. This guy’s just incredible no matter how you slice it. Yeah, he always tends to betray Tyson but it’s so that he can fight him in the final round. You can’t fight your teammate after all and the only way to fight him at 100% is to have the world championships on the line. Tyson can’t hold back that way and it’s sure to be a great fight. I would make a solid case for Kai having the most natural talent among any Beyblade character.

His final fight with Brooklyn shows how he can adapt mid-fight and continue with new strategies. It’s always a lot of fun to see him battle and I’ve seen his duels many times. Kai has a cool demeanor about him and the season 3 costume was great. Kai’s just the perfect kind of rival. He’s trained to such a degree that most fights are boring to him at this point and he just wants a true challenge. He certainly puts up with a ton of punishment but it shows how much he loves the game as he gets back up each time.

Boris had a big role in season 1 so it was cool to see him return. The guy definitely lays it on rather thick with how he is a changed man and all of that. Honestly if he dialed it back just a bit his goals would actually be all right. He just had to ruin it by trying to be all controlling. If he hadn’t tried to force everyone to register and all that, I don’t think the heroes would have had a problem with him. Additionally, he actually did not cheat during the tournament which I was surprised about. Maybe to a degree he has started to change. He’s still a jerk but I wouldn’t call him evil anymore.

Garland is one of the new villains in the final arc and he was a lot of fun. The guy thinks he is destined for greatness due to his family history and his abilities are impressive. The fact that he could stalemate Kai speaks volumes. His fans should be satisfied with his showings and he gets more duels than just about anyone else in Bega. His hand to hand martial arts along with his play make him very memorable.

Same goes for Brooklyn and then some in terms of being a memorable character. He starts out as being rather aloof and bored of everything but during a duel his true sadistic self starts to appear. He really enjoys taunting Kai and then completely cracks during his battle with Tyson. This guy’s basically a super villain with how he has powers and his unnatural way of learning everything. He’s definitely one of the best villains in the series and I would put him as a high tier option in the all characters list. He’s not the kind of character you will forget.

Next up is Ming-Ming and she was a surprise hit. I ended up liking her way more than I expected. In part I’d give some credit to the dub voice as the Mini Moon voice is incredibly nostalgic but she also tended to exceed expectations. Not only did she crush just about every opponent in her way but she even won in her big tournament battle. It was hard to see that coming and she shut down all of her doubters. Ming-Ming can be a bit of a troll with how she toys with Hilary as well. Ming-Ming definitely earned her spot on the team.

Mystel gets the least to do from the main members though. For starters, he has no personal connection to the rest of the team or a sob story to fall back on. He’s just a mysterious guy who goes around playing Beyblade. In a way there’s a lot more you can explore with him. He’s certainly very talented and has a unique fighting style. He didn’t stand out to me compared to the others but was a good addition to the team.

Finally you have Crusher who is fighting in Beyblade while his sister is in the hospital with a serious condition. The stakes are higher for him than anyone else as the virtual damage seems to go to his sister. So if he falters in a match then she seems to falter in the hospital. Of course this could be dramatic timing but I can see it being linked since the spirit plays such a big role in Beyblade battles. It can give you great power like with Kai’s transformation or zap all of your strength like with Tyson.

Miguel’s team is the only one that I couldn’t find myself caring about during the tournament. It felt a lot like a similar team in season 2 who ended up cheating a bit. This guy may want to be a good Beyblader but as long as he cheats he will never be on that level which is a lesson Tyson gives him. Miguel does ultimately shape up but it takes him a long while. Maybe because it feels like an old character beat but I just never liked him much. His duel with Tyson was mainly just really fun because of all of Tyson’s trash talking and because every duel in the series is a blast. Miguel had some teammates like Mathilda and Claude but there wasn’t a lot for them to do. Claude was a tattletale who didn’t really help out so it’s not like I would become a fan of that guy either.

Their leader Barthez is effectively just a weaker version of Boris. He’s also in it for direct cheating a whole lot more. It did give Rick a good chance to shine though. At one point Barthez frames the PB All Stars which would usually throw the team into disarray but Rick couldn’t care less. He’s used to playing the villain after all and still won the fight without breaking a sweat. It was one of the earlier moments where I knew Rick was just built different. In short, Barthez makes other characters look good but I still wasn’t a fan of his.

Julia and Raul made for a much more interesting team. They are experts in tag team battles but Raul has developed an inferiority complex since Julia is always claiming victory. He feels like his skills aren’t up to par and gets a whole sub plot about it. They were a likable team and actually got more wins than I had been expecting. They’re a fun underdog team to root for and have a good sibling bond. They may fight a lot but ultimately they always stay close. It’s fitting that they would be a great tag team combo.

Their coach Romero also ends up getting a decent role as he helps Kai when he has to get used to a new Blade. The guy hadn’t done anything in Arc 1 so I thought he was just a forgotten character but he ended up doing quite a lot. I’m not a big fan or anything but my opinion of him definitely improved in Arc 2.

Kai’s partner Tala ended up looking solid as well. He’s one of the season 1 characters so I expected him to look really weak like Lee but this guy actually ended up putting in the work. He was able to contend with a lot of the big leaguers even to the end. He ended up with a tough fate that made him miss a good deal of Arc 2 but he left an impression. His ice attacks are cool and his rivalry with Daichi was fun. His other teammates Bryan and Spencer are the ones who got the shaft though. There just wasn’t a whole lot for them to do except to get wrecked by Garland.

Michael used to be the leader of the All Stars so it’s a bit weird seeing him on the bench the whole time. The dub also gave him a rather odd new voice that makes him sound a lot more whiny. Between that and him not winning a single duel in this season, it was a rough time for his fans. Emily and Eddy also don’t really do anything. I didn’t care for them much because they didn’t do anything to support Max either. It should have felt like a home team for him but that didn’t end up being the case until near the end.

Likewise, Ray’s old teammates didn’t get to do much aside from Lee. Mariah for example gets a duel here and there but that’s about it. Tao gets to appear more as he gives Ray a lot of advice but he had one of the only boring subplots in the series when he takes Tyson shopping. This guy always talks tough but never really contributes so I tend to just tune him out whenever he is on screen.

Ten you have the noncombatants like Hilary. She had a much bigger role in VForce but she is still around for moral support here. She gets along with Tyson a lot better now but they still fight on occasion. It would be nice if she could actually blade with the others so that she has a more active role in the story but at least she tries to help the team get Bey parts when Bega starts to ban everything.

Kenny definitely doesn’t look very good here as he ends up falling for Ming-Ming and just embarrassing himself the whole time. It would have been good if he could have kept some dignity but unfortunately that doesn’t happen so in Arc 2 he just looks dreadful at all times. Any scene with him is one where you will find yourself cringing in shame.

Finally, the last character to mention here is Hiro. He starts out in his Jin of the Gale form which was really cool before eventually appearing as Hiro. He is Tyson’s brother so as you can expect, he has some pretty good skills. He doesn’t actually get to duel a whole lot but he is a cool character. I really liked him as a mysterious figure who popped up out of nowhere and in that sense maybe it’s good that the anime kept him as nonexistent until this season. Whether he is a coach for Tyson’s team or the villains, he is very good at taking his squad to the next level.

He can be quite harsh on Kai though. Almost every interaction they have ends with Hiro picking on him. He even made Brooklyn fight Kai intentionally as a way to get Kai out of the picture. Hiro certainly doesn’t hold back but I would have liked to have seen him fight more. His only real full fight was when he defeated Ray so we do know that he is a championship caliber player but it also leaves you wanting more.

Surprisingly the Bit Beasts are really not a factor this time around. They were a big deal in V Force but in this show they may as well not even exist. They are only mentioned once in a while but aren’t a big deal anymore. I don’t really mind either way but it’s just odd to see them effectively written out like this.

As a final note, I was glad that Tyson and the others beating the singers who were parading around in front of BEGA. When you start a new arc you usually expect the heroes to lose in the opening round but they managed to stay strong and clutch it out. It was an excellent way to start the second arc. We got a great duel and the heroes kept their hype. It was a nice way to subvert expectations.

Overall, What else can I say? G-Revolution is absolutely amazing and an anime I highly recommend checking out ASAP. Gems like this don’t come every day so you really want to dive in when one is discovered. Beyblade has always been a franchise I was eager to start and it’s been living up to the reputation so far. It’ll be really tough for Metal or Burst to pass this one, but it’s Beyblade so anything’s possible. I’d really like a revival of the original timeline someday though. With everything getting revivals nowadays though who knows…maybe it is in the cards.

Overall 9/10

Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Review


I remember pretty vividly when the author of Naruto announced that he was going to be starting a manga about Samurai next. In theory this would be the next big thing that would rise to great heights. Unfortunately it didn’t last very long and I can see why. I enjoyed the manga well enough while reading but I can see how weekly there would be some chapters that were dreadfully boring. Even by the end I would say the character roster is fairly low tier and the art could be messy. Some interesting ideas though and I suppose that is the case with a lot of manga that end early. Good ideas that just didn’t work out.

The manga starts by introducing us to Hachimaru. He is a very sickly kid who has to always be hooked up to a generator or he will die. This is pretty rough for him because the guy has always wanted to be a legendary Samurai. Right now he can only achieve this vision by playing video games. The virtual reality is highly advanced as this seems to be in a far future kind of setting so at least he has learned some skills. He is the #1 Samurai in the world in that game but it doesn’t help his real life circumstances.

In this world, in order to be a samurai you have to commit Seppuku which is to stab yourself in the gut with your sword. Usually this is a means of suicide but in this world if you are “chosen” then you will survive and become a Samurai. If you aren’t…then you will have just murdered yourself. Hachi’s father warns him never to try this but one day a group of evil samurai show up so Hachi performs the ritual and manages to survive. They also get saved by a wolf named Daruma who claims to be a very powerful Samurai.

The stakes are bigger than either of them as Daruma explains that he needs to find the 7 legendary Samurai who will serve as keys to open a mystical box. Opening that box will end up saving the entire universe but the heroes have to hurry. Additionally, the various villains will want to have a hand in putting a stop to this as well. There is really no time to waste but will Hachimaru’s ability to become a Samurai be a hinderance or a help?

There are a lot of other concepts that the manga introduces. There are so many of them in fact that it takes whole volumes to explain them all. The series ended with 5 volumes and I want to say that even up to the final volume there were new elements being added. It’s a lot to take in and it’s clear that Kishimoto had a lot that he wanted to cover but I think it would have worked better if he had spaced things out a bit.

From the start I also didn’t like the whole Seppuku aspect. I never like it in movies, games, or shows when someone does that. The character always claims that it will reclaim their honor and all, but you can’t claim anything when you’re dead. The fact that the only way to wield this power in the universe is to trust your life to a 50/50 stab…it’s a very odd mechanic and it’s one that just doesn’t work well. No wonder there aren’t a ton of real samurai in this world.

Now, there are several divisions of Samurai. I forget the terms but to be a true samurai you need a princess. The princess is able to power you up through prayer which allows you to use a variety of skills like spirit swords and body hopping. Hachi gets a princess near the end but this setup does mean that the princess likely won’t be doing much since her whole function is to stay in the back and pray. It’s a mechanic that doesn’t seem to have any future potential for battle so that could be tough on the princesses.

As you can see, there are just some fundamental issues I have with the series setting and build up. It’s something the series can get around but it is tricky for making this one of the elites. As mentioned, there is also an absolute ton of info dumping going around here. I think the author could have managed to condense this quite a bit and that would have gone a great deal into improving the series.

Then for the art, it’s not as good as you would expect since Naruto was pretty solid. I think the artist has an issue with scale sort of like the Shaman King/Ultimo series. Since this series gets into breaking moons and such rather early on, the action scenes get really crazy. It can be really hard to tell what is happening in a fight without severely slowing down and just trying to see what is going on. You have to take a deeper look but the art just gets way too convoluted.

All right, so lets take a look at the characters here. First up you have Hachi who is a reasonable main character. He wants to see the world and become the best samurai around. He had to live with being away from his dream for a really long time so he makes the most of it when he’s finally free. He does get jealous about Ann really fast but ultimately recovers with a decent character arc. I didn’t have any real qualms with this guy.

It’d be nice if Hachi was a little more self confident and slow to make mistakes but I saw improvement during the series so he would only have continued to get better. His dog Hayataro is more machine than anything at this point but he still a good dog to have around. He is able to transform which lets Hayataro fight even further as well. Having a machine dog around also lessens the chances of animal violence which is a win in my books.

Furuta is the guy who raised Hachi for a while. Now, this is a character I’m not a big fan of. I know he was locking Hachi away for his own good and all that but by the end of the series they’re low key hinting that he knew a lot more than he let on. Keeping secrets rarely pays off and this is definitely not going to be one of those times. I’m not sure if I actually believe he’s no longer around but with the series over, I suppose the future plans might not even matter.

Daruma is a really big character and serves as Hachi’s mentor. The guy used to be super powerful but due to plot reasons he is currently stuck as a wolf now. It seems to be going for an All Might kind of deal where he can temporarily go into his true form but only for short bursts of energy. It’s too bad because his normal form is awesome while I’m not a big fan of the wolf form yet. It’s also hard to scale how strong the wolf is since he is supposed to be pretty tough still but spends a lot of time sleeping so it’s hard to say. I wasn’t really on board with him, but Daruma’s not bad.

Then there’s the main heroine Ann. So she has a bit of a tragic backstory because her brother Nanashi failed the rite and ended up dying. Again…this is why using Seppuku as a way to gather your powers is insanity but as a result she has a hard time getting close to anyone, particularly Samurai. As her job is to pray for one, that’s a little tricky. As the series goes on she learns how to work with Hachi more effectively though.

Ann doesn’t get a whole lot of time to shine yet, but I expect she would have made for a pretty good team along with Hachi at some point down the road. I just hope she could learn to do more beyond just praying like perhaps firing off energy blasts or something. Just as a way to give the princess more to do than just being protected. She’s also more of a timid character so I wouldn’t mind if she really upped her confidence levels by the end.

As the series goes on, we meet some more Samurai and miscellaneous characters. One group is Sanda and Ryu. Sanda is a very tricky fellow who works for a mobster so you want to be careful how much you take his words at face value. I was not a fan of his though. He just made way too many wrong decisions at a late point in the game. So by the time he has his character arc I just thought it was way too late for him.

I do like Ryu though. His gimmick is that he is always forgetting things. Even if an event happened mere seconds ago, he won’t remember it. The guy’s short term memory is shot but he’s still an excellent fighter. It’s a gimmick that may get old eventually but at the moment I’m definitely cool with it. He was a very memorable character which was important. Also I have to say, I feel like Kishimoto was choosing these names as homages. The series has characters named Ichigo, Goku, Ryu, etc. That can’t be a coincidence.

Nanashi is another character who joins up with the team. As one of the 7 keys, you can expect that he would have continued to stay relevant as the series went on. He’s not bad, the guy doesn’t have a lot of self confidence initially as well but gradually continues to improve. I’m not super impressed with him yet though so he would need more time in a sequel series to get better. It’s also interesting how the series already has two characters named Nanashi. It’s just rare when that happens especially when a series isn’t all that long.

Next up is a cat warrior named Hanaichi. He’s not really a big player yet but he’s another Samurai who gets a lot of hype so you will want to keep an eye on this guy. His ally, Goku is more interesting though. Goku’s an excellent warrior who is also good outside of combat and even gives Hachi a few pointers. I could see this guy getting a big role down the road. He’s certainly one of the most impressive samurai we see in the series.

Now lets look at some of the villains. First up is Ata who is the first serious fighter that Hachi has to go up against. His skills are pretty decent but of course as an opening boss you know that he isn’t going to be one of the more powerful opponents. His goals are rather basic as well. His design is fairly unique though so I’ll give him that. As far as opening bosses go, I would say he was decent. Plus he is still relevant since the heroes haven’t really fought him at his best yet.

See, in this series the soul is more important than the body so you can always create another body around it if you are strong enough. Strength of will is absolutely essential in this series and it’s really how the samurai get the will to fight. Without that then they would be in trouble, but naturally someone like Ata will be ready for the longhaul.

Then you have Benkei who had a whole tournament scheme going when he always intended to just rob the winner. It’s a solid plan and the guy can fight so that definitely went pretty well for him. Still not a standout villain or anything but he was a fun one to have around. Near the end of the series you get a whole group of Hachi clones/siblings who show up. None of them have a chance to do a whole lot though but it’s an interesting idea. More secrets from the past coming to light and all of that.

Samurai 8 really gets bold by the end. At this point the author likely knew the series was ending so why not go all the way right? The series goes in a much different direction than I expect it would have if this stayed as an ongoing. It ends on a very open note so perhaps this will get a sequel series someday. It seems like a longshot especially since Kishimoto is so involved with Boruto right now but I guess you never know.

The fights were good and while I wasn’t fully engaged in the story yet, there was a lot of potential. In a way this series was going for the kind of adventure feel you would have in Fairy Tail, minus the fanservice. The issue is that it tries to go too fast and doesn’t feel natural the way that Fairy Tail does. Mix in the messy art and now you’ve got a bit of a problem.

I liked the video game analogies though and how Hachi was leveling up like he was in an RPG. If the video game aspect had been pushed a bit sooner then that definitely could have helped. It flowed really well with the series and also would have probably amped up the fights a bit as well. If the series ever does get a sequel I’d certainly be down for it.

Now you may be thinking, with all of these negatives, how will this title still get a positive score? Well, at the end of the day the manga was still fun and interesting. I was engaged enough with what was going on and blasted through the volumes in no time. It could have been better but we still had quality action moments, no fanservice, and the series was well written. The issues I mentioned will keep the series from being great, but it’s still a pretty good read and a nice way to spend some time.

Overall, Samurai 8 is a good series but one with enough flaws where you can see why they pulled the plug. It was just a good time to have something else give it a shot. My main issue was really with the series introducing way too many concepts in a short time (Particularly since I didn’t like most of them) and allowing this to make the fight scenes way too convoluted. It’s cool that he mixed in sci-fi with traditional samurai battling so well but there were too many layers to everything. If you’re looking for a good action title to check out though, you can’t go wrong with this one especially since it’s so short.

Overall 7/10